Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Severe depression associated with greater number of nerve cells in thalamus region of brain

01.07.2004


Individuals who suffer from severe depression have more nerve cells in the part of the brain that controls emotion, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have found

Studies of postmortem brains of patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) showed a 31 percent greater than average number of nerve cells in the portion of the thalamus involved with emotional regulation. Researchers also discovered that this portion of the thalamus is physically larger than normal in people with MDD. Located in the center of the brain, the thalamus is involved with many different brain functions, including relaying information from other parts of the brain to the cerebral cortex.

The findings, published in today’s issue of The American Journal of Psychiatry, are the first to directly link a psychiatric disorder with an increase in total regional nerve cells, said Dr. Dwight German, professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern.



"This supports the hypothesis that structural abnormalities in the brain are responsible for depression," he said. "Often people don’t understand why mentally ill people behave in odd ways. They may think they have a weak will or were brought up in some unusual way.

"But if their brains are different, they’re going to behave differently. Depression is an emotional disorder. So it makes sense that the part of the brain that is involved in emotional regulation is physically different."

Four groups were represented in the study: subjects with major depression, with bipolar disorder and with schizophrenia, as well as a comparison group with no history of mental illness. Major depression is characterized by a depressed mood and lack of interest or pleasure in normal activities for a prolonged period of time, while bipolar disease is distinguished by alternating periods of extreme mania or elevated mood swings, and severe depression. Schizophrenia often results in psychotic episodes of hallucinations and delusions and a lack of perception of reality.

Brain specimens were provided by the Stanley Foundation Brain Bank, which collects donated postmortem brains for research on mental illness, and the subjects were matched according to age, gender, brain weight and other variables.

Researchers from UT Southwestern, working with a team from Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, used special computer-imaging systems to meticulously count the number of nerve cells in the thalamus.

Results showed an increase of 37 percent and 26 percent, respectively, in the number of nerve cells in the mediodorsal and anteroventral/anteromedial areas of the thalamus in subjects with MDD when compared with similar cells in those with no psychiatric problems. The number of nerve cells in subjects with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia was normal.

Researchers also found that the size of the affected areas of the thalamus in subjects with MDD was 16 percent larger than those in the other groups.

"The thalamus is often referred to as the secretary of the cerebral cortex – the part of the brain that controls all kinds of important functions such as seeing, talking, moving, thinking and memory," Dr. German said. "Most everything that goes into the cortex has to go through the thalamus first.

"The thalamus also contains cells that are not involved with emotion. Our studies found these portions of the thalamus to be perfectly normal. But the ones that are involved in emotion are the ones that were abnormal."

Researchers also looked at the effect of antidepressant medications on the number of nerve cells and found no significant difference among any of the subject groups – whether they had taken antidepressants or not – reinforcing the belief that abnormalities in brain development are responsible for depression.

Donna Steph Hansard | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utsouthwestern.edu
http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/home/news/index.html

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures
17.11.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht High speed video recording precisely measures blood cell velocity
15.11.2017 | ITMO University

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: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>