With the latest data on depression obtained with MRI, it is more than clear that this condition has a physical role, contrary to the widespread misconception that this is only a state of mind.
The study included more than 900 people, all of whom received brain scans for study purposes. The findings showed that the sense of loss and low self-esteem are closely related to the function of the orbitofrontal cortex; This is the area of the brain associated with sensory integration, waiting and making decisions.
According to the computer psychiatrist Jianfeng Feng from the University of Warwick in the UK and the University of Fudan in China: “Our discovery with a combination of large data collected around the world and our new methods allows us to identify the roots of depression that should open up new opportunities for better therapeutic treatment in Near future for this terrible disease. ”
In order to isolate the brain mechanisms responsible for depression, the study group led by Feng scored 909 people in China, 421 of whom suffered from a major depressive disorder or depression, to participate in MRI scanning of the brain. The remaining 488 participants who were not affected by this condition acted as a control group.
The results of the scan showed that depression is associated with the neuronal function of two different orbitofrontal cortices (OFC) – medial OFC and lateral OFC.
The medial OFC is activated when we receive rewards, or when something good happens, and we feel confident about it.
However, the results revealed weaker neural connections between the medial OFC and brain memory systems in the hippocampus in participants with depression.
Some of the consequences of these results include difficulty of access and reminder of happy or positive memories in people with depression. The depression group also demonstrated stronger neural connections around the lateral OFC associated with processing results without rewards, such as punishment.
The two parts of the brain are involved in creating these stronger bonds – the preconceived, which is believed to be related to our sense of self, and the angular convolution responsible for finding and paying attention to memory.
In other words, increased brain activity around the lateral OFC may mean that people with depression can more easily tolerate negative experiences. On the other hand, it is more difficult for them to feel self-confident.
In addition, these effects appear to increase due to a decrease in the median OFC-compatibility; This makes the processing of happy memories much more difficult for them.
The researchers also found that the functional connectivity of the lateral ophthalmology center (OFC), which handles unsatisfactory results, such as punishments, was lower in patients taking medications, unlike those who did not.
The finding confirms that antidepressants align these mechanisms in this part of the brain, thereby reducing the symptoms of depression.
With the current treatment of this condition, with about 50% of all first-time prescriptions failing, new results will definitely shed light on understanding the physical causes of depression and hopefully improve future treatment of the disease.
The results are published in the journal Brain.
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