New research has shed fresh light on the role of the brain protein deltaFosB in combating depression and various emotional disorders. A team of scientists at UT Southwestern exposed mice to random shocks they couldn't escape from. Subsequently, they were allowed to escape the shocks, and the lag time each of the mice experienced in making their escape represents their level of "behavioral despair." The animals with the shortest lag time had the highest level of deltaFosB. Introducing the gene for deltaFosB also reduced their level of despair. High levels of deltaFosB were also linked to decreased activity of Substance P, a protein that regulates pain, stress and mood. The researchers published their findings in the journal Neuron.