Brain 'hyperconnectivity' linked to depression

February 23, 2012 By Sharon Jayson

People with depression have hyperactive brain activity, according to a study published online Tuesday that offers new insight into the brain dysfunction that causes depression.

Researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles studied the functional connections of the brain in 121 individuals, ages 21-80, who had been diagnosed with depression. They used quantitative electroencephalography to measure the synchronization of (electrical signals from the brain) to study networks among the different brain regions.

"All the depressed patients showed increased connectivity," says psychiatrist Andrew Leuchter, lead author of the study, published in the international online journal . "We know from studying normal individuals that the connections are turning off and on all the time. If you take a snapshot of a depressed person's brain, you're going to find the connections turned on at any given time."

Similar research with fewer individuals, and using a different , was published in 2010 in the scientific journal . Psychiatrist Yvette Sheline, director of the Center for Depression, Stress and Neuroimaging at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, found that depressed subjects had increased connectivity to one specific brain region she studied.

"Any time you use a larger sample you have much more reliable data," says Sheline, whose work used fMRI to study brain connectivity in 24 people. The UCLA research studied a range of and, with 121 participants, is considered the largest of its kind.

Leuchter says the brain needs to be able to process lots of different types of information and regulate many different processes.

"What our research shows is that the depressed brain appears to be less versatile. It's connecting all the regions all the time and is not able to shut down those connections in a normal way," says Leuchter, who also directs UCLA's Laboratory of Brain, Behavior and Pharmacology. "We don't know whether this hyperconnectivity is responsible for the symptoms."

Among symptoms associated with depression are anxiety, poor attention and concentration, memory issues and sleep disturbances.

Explore further: Study shows brain's response to sadness can predict relapses into depression

Related Stories

Depressed? Crossed wires in the brain

December 8, 2011

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a severely debilitating illness characterized by sadness and an inability to cope. Not only does it affect a person's ability to concentrate and make decisions, it also alters their ability ...

Recommended for you

New type of prion may cause, transmit neurodegeneration

August 31, 2015

Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), a neurodegenerative disorder with similarities to Parkinson's disease, is caused by a newly discovered type of prion, akin to the misfolded proteins involved in incurable progressive brain diseases ...

Deciphering the olfactory receptor code

August 31, 2015

In animals, numerous behaviors are governed by the olfactory perception of their surrounding world. Whether originating in the nose of a mammal or the antennas of an insect, perception results from the combined activation ...

How neurons get their branching shapes

August 31, 2015

For more than a hundred years, people have known that dendritic arbors—the projections that neurons use to receive information from other neurons—differ in size and shape depending on neuron type. Now, researchers at ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Callippo
not rated yet Feb 24, 2012
Newton probably suffered with depression in certain period of his life, too. The hypertrophy of brain neurons manifests with head shape at the case of some autists. In general, more intelligent people suffer with depressions more often.

http://www.aether...ists.gif

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.