Tapping into the electrical chatter between different regions of the brain may provide a new way to predict and prevent depression, according to new research by Duke University neuroscientists and electrical engineers.
The researchers found different networks of electrical brain activity in mice that were more susceptible to developing depression-like symptoms following stressful events than in more resilient mice.
If replicated in humans, these results could be the first step toward a test to predict a person’s vulnerabilty to developing mental illnesses like depression.
“What we are essentially creating is an electrical map of depression in the brain,” said Dr. Kafui Dzirasa, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, neurobiology and biomedical engineering at the Duke University School of Medicine. “We hope this could be used as a predictive signature of depression, in the same way that blood pressure is a predictive signature of who will ultimately have a heart attack or stroke.”
The study appeared March 1 in the journal Cell.
Most people experience major life stressors from time to time. The death of a loved one, loss of a job or challenging medical diagnosis can cause difficult emotions such as grief, sadness, anxiety or anger. But while some are able to bounce back from these stressors relatively quickly, others go on to experience mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety.
For the past three decades, neuroscientists have used imaging and electrical monitoring to study how activity in individual brain regions may predispose an individual to developing mental illness.
In 2010, Dzirasa and his graduate mentor, Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, developed a technique that can monitor electrical activity in not just one region of the mouse brain, but in many regions simultaneously. The results reveal how different areas of the brain work together to create specific mental states.
“You can think of different brain regions as individual instruments in an orchestra,” Dzirasa said. “We are interested in not just what each instrument is doing, but how the instruments coordinate themselves to generate music.”
In the experiment, each test mouse was placed in a cage with a larger and more aggressive mouse. After residing with this pugnacious roommate for ten days, many mice developed symptoms that resemble depression in humans, including anxiety, social avoidance and difficulty sleeping.
Before and after experiencing this stress, Dzirasa and postdoctoral fellow Rainbo Hultman measured brain activity in seven different brain regions that have been linked to depression, including the prefrontal cortex, the amygdala and the hippocampus.
Using machine learning techniques developed by Duke colleagues Kyle Ulrich, David Carlson and Lawrence Carin, the team constructed the brain “music” for each mouse. They found the mice who developed depression-like symptoms exhibited different patterns of brain activity both before and after the stress test than those who were more resilient to the experience.
The results may be useful for treatment as well as prevention of depression, Dzirasa said.
“To date, the most effective treatment for depression remains electroconvulsive therapy, but it comes along with a lot of side-effects,” Dzirasa said. “It might be possible to target electricity to the right place in the right way to create a treatment that doesn’t have the same side-effects as putting electricity everywhere.”
Monitoring networks of electrical brain activity holds promise for understanding not only depression, but other forms of mental illness as well, said Conor Liston, an assistant professor of neuroscience and psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine who was not involved in the study.
“Many scientists believe that the behavioral and clinical symptoms that define most psychiatric conditions — not just depression — are driven by changes at the brain network level,” Liston said in an email. “This report defines a new approach combining machine learning and other state-of-the-art statistical methods with multi-circuit recordings in mice that will probably inspire investigators to apply similar methods to advance our understanding of the neurobiology underlying other forms of mental illness.”
The Latest on: Depression
- Can Testosterone Therapy Treat Depression In Men With Low T? A New Study Examines The Evidence on November 14, 2018 at 8:04 pm
For many men with low testosterone (Low T), depression symptoms tend to be more common. While antidepressants are often the first-line treatment, they aren’t effective for a large percentage of patien... […]
- How the Great Depression Became the Golden Age for Monopoly on November 14, 2018 at 2:38 pm
When times got tough during the Great Depression, people played board games—especially the game that's all about making money. Wallace Kirkland/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images When the Great ... […]
- Having a Boy Puts You at Possible Risk for Postpartum Depression, Study Says on November 14, 2018 at 1:08 pm
A new study by a pair of UK researchers has linked an increased risk of postpartum depression (PPD) to women who had male babies, finding that the odds of developing PPD were 71-79% higher for women w... […]
- WWE's Becky Lynch Calls Ronda Rousey 'Weak' For Post-Holly Holm Fight Depression on November 14, 2018 at 12:08 pm
WWE Superstar Becky Lynch just ripped Ronda Rousey... saying the depression she had after losing to Holly Holm in 2015 prove she's a "weak-minded" person. ICYMI ... Rousey and Lynch have been feuding ... […]
- How the creative outlet of cosplay helped Scarlett to battle depression on November 14, 2018 at 10:13 am
Scarlett, 19, was an A* student when doing her GCSEs, but by the time she reached her A-Levels she could no longer ignore the clinical depression that was impacting her life. She attempted suicide, an... […]
- Why natural depression therapies are better than pills on November 14, 2018 at 5:20 am
Antidepressants bring in almost $17 billion a year for the pharmaceutical industry, and yet science shows their benefit to be small. Natural therapies such as diet, exercise, light therapy and ... […]
- Dealing with depression on November 14, 2018 at 2:46 am
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Depression doesn’t discriminate but many people suffering from the mental health disorder don’t know they have it. Hundreds of thousands of people can suffer from depression ... […]
- New study links a higher BMI to an increased risk of depression on November 14, 2018 at 1:02 am
New research has found more evidence to suggest that body mass index (BMI) is linked to depression, with a BMI over 30 associated with a higher risk of the condition. Carried out by researchers at the ... […]
- New study links high body mass index to depression on November 13, 2018 at 9:52 am
Nov. 13 (UPI) --A recent study presents strong evidence that higher body mass index can cause depression. Researchers from the University of South Australia published a study detailing these findings ... […]
- Being overweight likely to cause depression, even without health complications on November 12, 2018 at 9:01 pm
A largescale genomic analysis has found the strongest evidence yet that being overweight causes depression, even in the absence of other health problems. The team looked at UK Biobank data from ... […]
via Google News and Bing News