Most of us know what it means when it's said that someone is depressed. But commonly, true clinical depression brings with it a number of other symptoms. These can include anxiety, poor attention and concentration, memory issues, and sleep disturbances.
Traditionally, depression researchers have sought to identify the individual brain areas responsible for causing these symptoms. But the combination of so many symptoms suggested to UCLA researchers that the multiple symptoms of depression may be linked to a malfunction involving brain networks the connections that link different brain regions.
Now, for the first time, these UCLA researchers have shown that people with depression have increased connections among most brain areas. Indeed, their brains are widely hyperconnected. The report, published this week in the online journal PLoS One, sheds new light on the brain dysfunction that causes depression and its wide array of symptoms.
"The brain must be able to regulate its connections to function properly," said the study's first author, Dr. Andrew Leuchter, a professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. "The brain must be able to first synchronize, and then later desynchronize, different areas in order to react, regulate mood, learn and solve problems."
The depressed brain, Leuchter said, maintains its ability to form functional connections but loses the ability to turn these connections off.
"This inability to control how brain areas work together may help explain some of the symptoms in depression," he said.
In the study, the largest of its kind, the researchers studied the functional connections of the brain in 121 adults diagnosed with major depressive disorder, or MDD. They measured the synchronization of electrical signals from the brain brain waves to study networks among the different brain regions.
While some previous st
|Contact: Mark Wheeler|
University of California - Los Angeles