Researchers find where depression lives in the Brain

24th Oct 2016

University of Warwick researchers teamed up with China's Fudan University to identify a physical region of the brain that is affected in depressive episodes. 

The subjects were split into two groups; those who were diagnosed with major depression and those who are healthy. All participants underwent a high-precision MRI brain scan. They found that depression affects part of the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), which plays a role decision-making and adaptive behaviour. 

The OFC is divided into two sections; lateral OFC and medial OFC. The lateral OFC becomes active following a non-reward, such as an unpleasant experience and is shown to be linked to an individual's sense of self, therefore, those suffering from depression could experience low self-esteem , disappointment and personal loss. The medial OFC is the reward circuit, it plays a role in depression as a decrease in connectivity to memory systems can cause fewer happy and pleasant memories being recalled. 

By understanding specific areas of the brain associated with depression, potential treatments can be put in place to target these and help restore levels of connectivity back to healthy. 

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