Personal reflection triggers increased brain activity during depressive episodes

November 6, 2013
Personal reflection triggers increased brain activity during depressive episodes
The study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to analyse the brain’s while participants chose positive, negative and neutral adjectives to describe either themselves or the British Queen

Research by the University of Liverpool has found that people experiencing depressive episodes display increased brain activity when they think about themselves.

Using (fMRI) brain imaging technologies, scientists found that people experiencing a process information about themselves in the brain differently to people who are not depressed.

Researchers scanned the brains of people in major depressive episodes and those that weren't whilst they chose positive, negative and neutral adjectives to describe either themselves or the British Queen - a figure significantly removed from their daily lives but one that all participants were familiar with.

Professor Peter Kinderman, Head of the University's Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, said: "We found that participants who were experiencing depressed mood chose significantly fewer positive words and more negative and neutral words to describe themselves, in comparison to participants who were not depressed.

"That's not too surprising, but the brain scans also revealed significantly greater in the medial superior frontal cortex – the area associated with processing self-related information - when the depressed participants were making judgments about themselves.

"This research leads the way for further studies into the psychological and that accompany . Understanding more about how people evaluate themselves when they are depressed, and how neural processes are involved could lead to improved understanding and care."

Dr May Sarsam, from the Mersey Care NHS Trust, said: "This study explored the difference in medical and psychological theories of depression. It showed that only differed when depressed people thought about themselves, not when they thought about the Queen or when they made other types of judgements, which fits very well with the current psychological theory.

"Thought and neurochemistry should be considered as equally important in our understanding of mental health difficulties such as depression."

Depression is associated with extensive negative feelings and thoughts. Nearly one-fifth of adults experience anxiety or depression, with the conditions affecting a higher proportion of women than men.

The research, in collaboration with the Mersey Care NHS Trust and the Universities of Manchester, Edinburgh and Lancaster, is published in PLOS One.

Explore further: Depressed? Crossed wires in the brain

More information: www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0078844

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 ...

Activity in brain networks related to features of depression

April 3, 2012

Depressed individuals with a tendency to ruminate on negative thoughts, i.e. to repeatedly think about particular negative thoughts or memories, show different patterns of brain network activation compared to healthy individuals, ...

Brain differences seen in depressed preschoolers

July 1, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—A key brain structure that regulates emotions works differently in preschoolers with depression compared with their healthy peers, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in ...

Depressed people have a more accurate perception of time

August 23, 2013

People with mild depression underestimate their talents.  However, new research led by the University of Hertfordshire shows that depressed people are more accurate when it comes to time estimation than their happier peers.

Recommended for you

In analyzing a scene, we make the easiest judgments first

September 3, 2015

Psychology researchers who have hypothesized that we classify scenery by following some order of cognitive priorities may have been overlooking something simpler. New evidence suggests that the fastest categorizations our ...

Forensic examiners pass the face matching test

September 1, 2015

The first study to test the skills of FBI agents and other law enforcers who have been trained in facial recognition has provided a reassuring result - they perform better than the average person or even computers on this ...

0 comments

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.