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Study Probes Neural Correlates of Depressive Symptoms

Study Probes Neural Correlates of Depressive Symptoms

A new study finds that depression affects a part of the brain that causes sufferers of the disease to feel a sense of loss and disappointment associated with not receiving rewards.

Specifically, investigators from the University of Warwick, U.K., and Fudan University in China found that depression affects the part of the brain implicated in non-reward, the lateral orbitofrontal cortex.

This area of the brain, which becomes active when rewards are not received, is also connected with the part of the brain which is involved in one’s sense of self.

Depression is also associated with reduced connectivity between the reward brain area in the medial orbitofrontal cortex and memory systems in the brain. Experts believe this could explain why people with depression have trouble concentrating on happy memories.

The study was carried out by Professor Edmund Rolls from Warwick, Professor Jianfeng Feng from Warwick and Fudan University in Shanghai, Dr. Wei Cheng from Fudan University, and by other centers in China.

For the study, almost 1,000 people in China had their brains scanned using high precision MRI. The imaging analyzed the connections between the medial and lateral orbitofrontal cortex, the different parts of the human brain affected by depression.

“More than one in 10 people in their lifetime suffer from depression, a disease which is so common in modern society and we can even find the remains of Prozac (a depression drug) in the tap water in London,” said Feng.

“Our finding, with the combination of big data we collected around the world and our novel methods, enables us to locate the roots of depression which should open up new avenues for better therapeutic treatments in the near future for this horrible disease.”

Professor Edmund Rolls looks forward to the new treatments the research could lead to.

“The new findings on how depression is related to different functional connectivities of the orbitofrontal cortex have implications for treatments in the light of a recent non-reward attractor theory of depression,” he said.

The research is published in the journal Brain.

Source: University of Warwick

Study Probes Neural Correlates of Depressive Symptoms

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Study Probes Neural Correlates of Depressive Symptoms. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 19 Oct 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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