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Does the brain 'remember' antidepressants?
Date:3/26/2012

Individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) often undergo multiple courses of antidepressant treatment during their lives. This is because the disorder can recur despite treatment and because finding the right medication for a specific individual can take time.

While the relationship between prior treatment and the brain's response to subsequent treatment is unknown, a new study by UCLA researchers suggests that how the brain responds to antidepressant medication may be influenced by its remembering of past antidepressant exposure.

Interestingly, the researchers used a harmless placebo as the key to tracking the footprints of prior antidepressant use.

Aimee Hunter, the study's lead author and an assistant professor of psychiatry at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and colleagues showed that a simple placebo pill, made to look like actual medication for depression, can "trick" the brain into responding in the same manner as the actual medication.

The report was published online March 23 in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology.

The investigators examined changes in brain function in 89 depressed persons during eight weeks of treatment, using either an antidepressant medication or a similar-looking placebo pill. They set out to compare the two treatments medication versus placebo but they also added a twist: They separately examined the data for subjects who had never previously taken an antidepressant and those who had.

The researchers focused on the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain thought to be involved in planning complex cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision-making and moderating social behavior, all things depressed people wrestle with.

Brain changes were assessed using electroencephalograph (EEG) measures developed at UCLA by study co-authors Dr. Ian Cook, UCLA's Miller Family Professor of Psychiatry, and Dr. An
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Contact: Mark Wheeler
mwheeler@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2265
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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