Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Online test to discover if you were born to be sad

31.08.2005


Researchers at The University of Manchester are testing our genetic disposition to depression with a unique Internet test.



The team, based at the Neuroscience and Psychiatry Unit (NPU), in the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, has set up a website (www.newmood.co.uk) where would-be volunteers can see how prone they may be to depression by identifying the emotions on people’s faces and taking a gambling test.

The team aims to recruit more than 1000 UK volunteers for further tests as part of the five-year, EU-funded project called NewMood - New Molecules in Mood Disorders. They have already discovered how anti-depressants such as Prozac can affect how the brain reacts to fearful faces and which parts of the brain react to fear.


Professor Bill Deakin explains: "Anxiety is a contagious emotion. When you see other people who are anxious, as a primate you feel anxious as well. Our brains are wired to see anxiety - it makes sure we are safe. This is a fascinating test and, during further testing, we will be able to see which parts of the brain light up, or work harder, when you see a fearful face. Depressed people are more likely to see sadness or fear in a neutral face.

"The gambling test, where volunteers choose from pairs of spinners to ’win’ money, will show us which parts of the brain light up when you are working for a reward. Depressed people are less affected by reward and more likely to give up easily as the test goes on."

Volunteers for this research study will be asked to fill in a confidential questionnaire and provide a mouth swab for genetic analysis. The team will then compare the DNA with the questionnaire group data.

In the other EU NewMood centres, rats and mice are also being tested for their predisposition to depression using similar reward and anxiety measures. When offered sweet-tasting drinks, depressed animals show no preference, much as humans lose pleasure in eating and often lose weight when they are depressed. And when given the opportunity to explore a new location depressed animals are more wary and take longer to emerge from dark corners, much as depressed humans avoid social situations.

"All humans have the same genes and they are very similar to those in all mammals - we turn out differently from each other because we inherit different versions of the same genes which can vary in their activity" Professor Deakin says. "We can see what genetic traits towards depression these animals have, then compare them with the same genes in the human DNA.

"Depression is a common trait like height or body build and, just like those, we suspect there are lots of genes involved. By measuring the important possible factors that can lead to a tendency to depression across a large number of individual people, we hope to find which ones act together to cause depression. Ultimately, this will help us to develop new ways of preventing and treating this illness."

Depression is common illness affecting 10-20% of the population at some time in their life and is twice as common in women as in men. Treatment can be very effective, but may not help everyone. The causes of depression are a mixture of genetic tendency, personality factors, difficult circumstances and life experiences, and the big challenge is trying to understand how these work together to lead to depression.

Professor Deakin adds: "We have already made two discoveries through our work so far. We have found that anti-depressants such as Prozac affect how the brain reacts to fearful faces, and also which parts of the brain react directly to antidepressants."

The University of Manchester is leading 13 institutions in ten countries in the NewMood project. Four institutions are testing humans and each need 1000 volunteers. Those who take part in this study could win £100 in a prize draw.

Mikaela Sitford | alfa
Further information:
http://www.manchester.ac.uk/press/title,39862,en.htm

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht 3D images of cancer cells in the body: Medical physicists from Halle present new method
16.05.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

nachricht Better equipped in the fight against lung cancer
16.05.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

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: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Chemists at FAU successfully demonstrate imine hydrogenation with inexpensive main group metal

22.05.2018 | Life Sciences

Asian tiger mosquito on the move

22.05.2018 | Life Sciences

Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>