Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Brain images reveal effects of antidepressants

06.02.2003


The experiences of millions of people have proved that antidepressants work, but only with the advent of sophisticated imaging technology have scientists begun to learn exactly how the medications affect brain structures and circuits to bring relief from depression.



Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and UW Medical School recently added important new information to the growing body of knowledge. For the first time, they used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)--technology that provides a view of the brain as it is working--to see what changes occur over time during antidepressant treatment while patients experience negative and positive emotions.

The study appears in the January issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. UW psychology professor Richard Davidson, Ph.D., psychiatry department chair Ned Kalin, MD, research associate William Irwin and research assistant Michael Anderle were the authors.


The researchers found that when they gave the antidepressant venlafaxine (Effexor(r)) to a small group of clinically depressed patients, the drug produced robust alterations in the anterior cingulate. This area of the brain has to do with focused attention and also becomes activated when people face conflicts. Unexpectedly, the changes were observed in just two weeks.

"Conducting repeated brain scans in these patients allowed us to see for the first time how quickly antidepressants work on brain mechanisms," said Davidson, who also is director of the W. M. Keck Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior, where imaging for the study took place. He noted that the findings were surprising because patients don’t usually begin noticing mood improvements until after they have been taking antidepressants for three to five weeks.

The researchers also found that while the depressed patients displayed lower overall activity in the anterior cingulate than non-depressed controls, those depressed patients who showed relatively more activity before treatment responded better to the medication than those with lower pre-treatment activity. This kind of information may be extremely useful to clinicians someday, Kalin said.

"We expect that physicians in the future will be able to predict which patients will be the best candidates for antidepressants simply by looking at brain scans that reveal this type of pertinent information," said Kalin, who also is director of the HealthEmotions Research Institute, where scientists concentrate on uncovering the scientific basis of linkages between emotions and health. One third of all patients treated with antidepressants do not respond to them, and of those that do, only about 50 percent get completely better, he added.

Virtually all previous studies analyzing brain activity in depressed people used PET (positron emission tomography) and SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) technology. With these imaging systems scientists were not able to obtain pictures with the same resolution as that which is now obtainable with fMRI, which provides a "working snapshot" of the brain.

The Wisconsin team used fMRI’s capability to capture brain activity as it occurred to record subjects’ reactions as they viewed pictures designed to stimulate negative and positive emotions.

"We believe that we can uncover the best indicators of treatment changes when we present research subjects these emotion challenges," said Davidson. "The pictures activate the individual circuits that underlie different kinds of emotional responses."

UW emotions researchers have been using fMRIs with emotion-challenging pictures for several years in an effort to understand normal and abnormal brain responses to a range of emotions. They theorize that in depressed people, reactions to negative emotions are similar to, but more exaggerated than, reactions that non-depressed people have, and that the reactions may be more difficult to turn off.

"We all experience some sadness from time to time, but in depression, the responses may be sustained and out of context," said psychiatrist Kalin.

With the HealthEmotions Research Institute, the Keck Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior and the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience, UW is home to a critical mass of some of the foremost emotions researchers in the world.


###
CONTACT: Dian Land, 608-263-9893, dj.land@hosp.wisc.edu; Lisa Brunette, 608-263-5830, la.brunette@hosp.wisc.edu.

Dian Land | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wisc.edu/

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology
07.12.2016 | Nanyang Technological University

nachricht How to turn white fat brown
07.12.2016 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>