Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hyperactivity in brain may explain multiple symptoms of depression

28.02.2012
Electrical signals can't shut off, suggest UCLA researchers

Most of us know what it means when it's said that someone is depressed. But commonly, true clinical depression brings with it a number of other symptoms. These can include anxiety, poor attention and concentration, memory issues, and sleep disturbances.

Traditionally, depression researchers have sought to identify the individual brain areas responsible for causing these symptoms. But the combination of so many symptoms suggested to UCLA researchers that the multiple symptoms of depression may be linked to a malfunction involving brain networks — the connections that link different brain regions.

Now, for the first time, these UCLA researchers have shown that people with depression have increased connections among most brain areas. Indeed, their brains are widely hyperconnected. The report, published this week in the online journal PLoS One, sheds new light on the brain dysfunction that causes depression and its wide array of symptoms.

"The brain must be able to regulate its connections to function properly," said the study's first author, Dr. Andrew Leuchter, a professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. "The brain must be able to first synchronize, and then later desynchronize, different areas in order to react, regulate mood, learn and solve problems."

The depressed brain, Leuchter said, maintains its ability to form functional connections but loses the ability to turn these connections off.

"This inability to control how brain areas work together may help explain some of the symptoms in depression," he said.

In the study, the largest of its kind, the researchers studied the functional connections of the brain in 121 adults diagnosed with major depressive disorder, or MDD. They measured the synchronization of electrical signals from the brain — brain waves — to study networks among the different brain regions.

While some previous studies have hinted at abnormal patterns of connections in MDD, the UCLA team used a new method called "weighted network analysis" to examine overall brain connections. They found that the depressed subjects showed increased synchronization across all frequencies of electrical activity, indicating dysfunction in many different brain networks.

Brain rhythms in some of these networks regulate the release of serotonin and other brain chemicals that help control mood, said Leuchter, who is also the director of UCLA's Laboratory of Brain, Behavior, and Pharmacology and chair of the UCLA Academic Senate.

"The area of the brain that showed the greatest degree of abnormal connections was the prefrontal cortex, which is heavily involved in regulating mood and solving problems," he said. "When brain systems lose their flexibility in controlling connections, they may not be able to adapt to change.

"So an important question is, to what extent do abnormal rhythms drive the abnormal brain chemistry that we see in depression? We have known for some time that antidepressant medications alter the electrical rhythms of the brain at the same time that levels of brain chemicals like serotonin are changing. It is possible that a primary effect of antidepressant treatment is to 'repair' the brain's electrical connections and that normalizing brain connectivity is a key step in recovery from depression. That will be the next step in our research."

Other authors of the study include Dr. Ian A. Cook, Aimee M. Hunter, Chaochao Cai and Steve Horvath, all of UCLA. Funding for the study was provided by the National Institutes of Health, Lilly Research Laboratories and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. The authors report no conflict of interest.

To learn more, visit www.brain.ucla.edu.

The Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior is an interdisciplinary research and education institute devoted to the understanding of complex human behavior, including the genetic, biological, behavioral and sociocultural underpinnings of normal behavior, and the causes and consequences of neuropsychiatric disorders. In addition to conducting fundamental research, the institute's faculty seeks to develop effective strategies for the prevention and treatment of neurological, psychiatric and behavioral disorder, including improvement in access to mental health services and the shaping of national health policy.

For more news, visit the UCLA Newsroom and follow us on Twitter.

Mark Wheeler | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucla.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht A step closer to cancer precision medicine
15.11.2019 | University of Helsinki

nachricht Can 'smart toilets' be the next health data wellspring?
14.11.2019 | Morgridge Institute for Research

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: Atoms don't like jumping rope

Nanooptical traps are a promising building block for quantum technologies. Austrian and German scientists have now removed an important obstacle to their practical use. They were able to show that a special form of mechanical vibration heats trapped particles in a very short time and knocks them out of the trap.

By controlling individual atoms, quantum properties can be investigated and made usable for technological applications. For about ten years, physicists have...

Im Focus: Images from NJIT's big bear solar observatory peel away layers of a stellar mystery

An international team of scientists, including three researchers from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), has shed new light on one of the central mysteries of solar physics: how energy from the Sun is transferred to the star's upper atmosphere, heating it to 1 million degrees Fahrenheit and higher in some regions, temperatures that are vastly hotter than the Sun's surface.

With new images from NJIT's Big Bear Solar Observatory (BBSO), the researchers have revealed in groundbreaking, granular detail what appears to be a likely...

Im Focus: New opportunities in additive manufacturing presented

Fraunhofer IFAM Dresden demonstrates manufacturing of copper components

The Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Dresden has succeeded in using Selective Electron Beam Melting (SEBM) to...

Im Focus: New Pitt research finds carbon nanotubes show a love/hate relationship with water

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are valuable for a wide variety of applications. Made of graphene sheets rolled into tubes 10,000 times smaller than a human hair, CNTs have an exceptional strength-to-mass ratio and excellent thermal and electrical properties. These features make them ideal for a range of applications, including supercapacitors, interconnects, adhesives, particle trapping and structural color.

New research reveals even more potential for CNTs: as a coating, they can both repel and hold water in place, a useful property for applications like printing,...

Im Focus: Magnets for the second dimension

If you've ever tried to put several really strong, small cube magnets right next to each other on a magnetic board, you'll know that you just can't do it. What happens is that the magnets always arrange themselves in a column sticking out vertically from the magnetic board. Moreover, it's almost impossible to join several rows of these magnets together to form a flat surface. That's because magnets are dipolar. Equal poles repel each other, with the north pole of one magnet always attaching itself to the south pole of another and vice versa. This explains why they form a column with all the magnets aligned the same way.

Now, scientists at ETH Zurich have managed to create magnetic building blocks in the shape of cubes that - for the first time ever - can be joined together to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

First International Conference on Agrophotovoltaics in August 2020

15.11.2019 | Event News

Laser Symposium on Electromobility in Aachen: trends for the mobility revolution

15.11.2019 | Event News

High entropy alloys for hot turbines and tireless metal-forming presses

05.11.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

How LISA pathfinder detected dozens of 'comet crumbs'

19.11.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Trash talk hurts, even when it comes from a robot

19.11.2019 | Social Sciences

The evolution and genomic basis of beetle diversity

19.11.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>