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: Depressed? Crossed wires in the brain

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 ...

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

May 26, 2011
A University of Toronto study shows that when formerly depressed people experience mild states of sadness, their brain's response can predict if they will become depressed again.

Recommended for you

Investigating patterns of degeneration in Alzheimer's disease

November 17, 2017
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is known to cause memory loss and cognitive decline, but other functions of the brain can remain intact. The reasons cells in some brain regions degenerate while others are protected is largely unknown. ...

Study may point to new treatment approach for ASD

November 17, 2017
Using sophisticated genome mining and gene manipulation techniques, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have solved a mystery that could lead to a new treatment approach for autism spectrum disorder ...

Paraplegic rats walk and regain feeling after stem cell treatment

November 16, 2017
Engineered tissue containing human stem cells has allowed paraplegic rats to walk independently and regain sensory perception. The implanted rats also show some degree of healing in their spinal cords. The research, published ...

Brain implant tested in human patients found to improve memory recall

November 15, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers with the University of Southern California and the Wake Forest School of Medicine has conducted experiments involving implanting electrodes into the brains of human volunteers to see ...

Researchers identify potential mediator for social memory formation

November 15, 2017
Research by a group of scientists at the Department of Physiology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore (NUS Medicine) have discovered that a tiny brain region plays a critical role in the formation ...

Improving clinical trials with machine learning

November 15, 2017
Machine learning could improve our ability to determine whether a new drug works in the brain, potentially enabling researchers to detect drug effects that would be missed entirely by conventional statistical tests, finds ...

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.