Navigation Links
Study shows that chronic grief activates pleasure areas of the brain
Date:6/20/2008

Grief is universal, and most of us will probably experience the pain grief brings at some point in our lives, usually with the death of a loved one. In time, we move on, accepting the loss.

But for a substantial minority, it's impossible to let go, and even years later, any reminder of their loss a picture, a memory brings on a fresh wave of grief and yearning. The question is, why? Why do some grieve and ultimately adapt, while others can't get over the loss of someone held dear?

Reporting in the journal NeuroImage, scientists at UCLA suggest that such long-term or "complicated" grief activates neurons in the reward centers of the brain, possibly giving these memories addiction-like properties. Their research is currently available in the journal's online edition.

This study is the first to compare those with complicated and noncomplicated grief, and future research in this area may help psychologists do a better job of treating those with complicated grief, according to Mary-Frances O'Connor, UCLA assistant professor of psychiatry and lead author of the study.

"The idea is that when our loved ones are alive, we get a rewarding cue from seeing them or things that remind us of them," O'Connor said. "After the loved one dies, those who adapt to the loss stop getting this neural reward. But those who don't adapt continue to crave it, because each time they do see a cue, they still get that neural reward.

"Of course, all of this is outside of conscious thought, so there isn't an intention about it," she said.

The study analyzed whether those with complicated grief had greater activity occurring in either the brain's reward network or pain network than those with noncomplicated grief. The researchers looked at 23 women who had lost a mother or a sister to breast cancer. (Grief is very problematic among survivors of breast cancer patients, particularly among female family members who have increased risk based on their family history). They found that, of that number, 11 had complicated grief, and 12 had the more normal, noncomplicated grief.

Each of the study participants brought a photograph of their deceased loved one and were shown this picture while undergoing brain scanning by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Next, they were scanned while looking at a photograph of a female stranger.

The authors looked for activity in the nucleus accumbens, a region of the brain most commonly associated with reward and one that has also been shown to play a role in social attachment, such as sibling and maternal affiliation. They also examined activity in the pain network of the brain, including the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and the insula, which has been implicated in both physical and social pain. They found that while both groups had activation in the pain network of the brain after viewing a picture of their loved one, only individuals with complicated grief showed significant nucleus accumbens activations.

Complicated grief can be debilitating, involving recurrent pangs of painful emotions, including intense yearning, longing and searching for the deceased, and a preoccupation with thoughts of the loved one. This syndrome has now been defined by an empirically derived set of criteria and is being considered for inclusion in the DSM-V, the psychiatric manual for diagnosing mental disorders.

O'Connor, who is a member of UCLA's Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, cautions that she is not suggesting that such reveries about the deceased are emotionally satisfying but rather that they may serve in some people as a type of craving for the reward response that may make adapting to the reality of the loss more difficult.


'/>"/>

Contact: Mark Wheeler
mwheeler@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2265
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Researchers seek children for a study of antibiotics for a urinary tract disorder
2. NIH funds highway pollution and health study in Boston, Somerville
3. Study links vitamin D to colon cancer survival
4. Study: Medicare Competitive Bidding Program Could Impede Seniors Access to Diabetes Testing Supplies
5. Study finds Childrens Hospital patient safety program improves caregiver/family communications
6. Study Shows Mothers Who Take Chlorella Boost Babies Antibodies During Breast Feeding
7. Sprinters closest to starter pistol have advantage over those farther away, says study
8. Study indicates grape seed extract may reduce cognitive decline associated with Alzheimers disease
9. Study Ties Herpes Virus to Emerging Form of Diabetes
10. Study underway to find an alternative cure for Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis
11. New study shows American Cancer Society program helps employers
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/8/2016)... ... February 08, 2016 , ... ... redesigned website, federallabs.org . The site houses a wealth of federal resources ... technologies through the process called technology transfer (T2). As a network of over ...
(Date:2/8/2016)... ... February 08, 2016 , ... ... Houma, LA, celebrates the beginning of a new charity campaign. As part of ... Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). In the belief that children deserve a voice, and ...
(Date:2/8/2016)... ... February 08, 2016 , ... Brenton Engineering , ... bags, and flow wrapped products at WestPack 2015, February 9-11, in Anaheim, California. ... up to semi-automatic or fully-automatic case packing with a small footprint, rugged, highly ...
(Date:2/8/2016)... Island, SC (PRWEB) , ... February 08, 2016 , ... ... surrounding areas with a vital new community enrichment program, has teamed up with Citizens ... women and children suffering from intimate abuse. To support all those victimized by the ...
(Date:2/8/2016)... CA (PRWEB) , ... February 08, 2016 , ... Delta ... $792,000 to help combat pancreatic cancer. , Gary D. Radine, who recently retired as ... was the American Cancer Society’s 2015 CEO of the Year , helped lead ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/8/2016)... N.C. , Feb. 8, 2016  Avista Pharma ... Eric Setzer as Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Mr. ... twenty years of experience in various roles within growing ... Pharma, he served as the Executive Director of Finance ... in Raleigh, NC . Previously, Mr. ...
(Date:2/8/2016)... , Feb. 8, 2016 Velano Vascular, ... experience for hospitalized patients and their practitioners, announced today ... in funding. Velano will use the proceeds from this ... financing completed in January 2015, to support the development ... adult and pediatric populations. Philadelphia ...
(Date:2/8/2016)... -- Vestagen Technical Textiles, Inc., a medical technology company ... other demanding applications, today announced it has named ... Dale Pfost , PhD, who was serving as interim ... Vestagen,s Board of Directors. ® , the ... that combines fluid repellent, antimicrobial and breathability properties. VESTEX ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: