New research suggests depression symptoms may be linked to brain activity, including those associated with depression symptoms.
In a study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, scientists at the University of Warwick looked at brain scans of people with major depression and found that some of the most significant changes occurred in areas associated with reward processing.
Researchers also found that the activity of these areas was more prominent in people who had a history of depression.
Dr. Chris Dyer, a psychologist at the UW who led the study, said:The study is a huge step forward in understanding the link between depression and reward processing and depression and brain activity.
This is a very important piece of evidence to have for the clinician, to know that reward processing is involved in depression.
This suggests that there is a link between reward processing, the development of depression and depression symptoms.
“Dr Dyer said he hopes the results will lead to new treatment options for depression.
He said:We’re starting to see this link between the depression symptoms and reward activity.
We don’t know why this is the case, but it could be that these brain areas that are associated with depressive symptoms are linked to reward processing.”
The study also found increased activity in the areas of the brain that control the rewarding response in the brain when people are feeling depressed, compared to people who are not depressed.
Researchers said that this was the first evidence that this activity was linked to depressive symptoms.
Dr Dyers said:This is the first direct evidence that depression and the rewarding function of the reward system is involved.
It’s an important finding, and we’re excited about it, because we know depression has a negative impact on our health, so the link with reward function is exciting.
“The researchers also found evidence of increased activity at the reward pathway in people suffering from depression, suggesting that this pathway may be important for how we learn and retain information about ourselves.
Dr Rhea Latham, a PhD student at the university, said this finding was exciting and she hoped it would lead to a more effective treatment strategy for depression:This may be something we should look at more broadly to see if we can help people learn and process new information, and it could help with learning skills such as memory, concentration and problem-solving skills.
Dr Latham said:It’s exciting that we can now look at these different brain areas as the areas that might be involved in reward processing to understand how the reward circuitry in the brains of people suffering with depression may be different to other people.”
If we can work on developing treatments that help people deal with depression, this could be a huge benefit.