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Scientists Tackle Physical Source of Depression, Potential Developments

Dec 26, 2016 10:00 AM EST
Scientists Tackle Physical Source of Depression, Potential Developments
We may finally have discovered the physical source of depression in the brain. New research has allowed researchers to identify the lateral orbitofrontal cortex as the area of the brain that is most affected by depression. This can open up possible new treatments.
(Photo : Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

We may finally have discovered the physical source of depression in the brain. New research has allowed researchers to identify the lateral orbitofrontal cortex as the area of the brain that is most affected by depression. This can open up possible new treatments.

According to Science Daily, this initiative was from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom and Fudan University in China.

The study shows that depression actually affects the parts of the brain which is implicated in non-reward, which is the lateral orbitofrontal cortex so that sufferers of the condition feel a sense of loss and disappointment associated with not receiving rewards.

This area of the brain, which is blown into activity when rewards are not received, is also connected with the part of the brain which is involved in one's sense of self. This potentially leads to thoughts of personal loss and low self-esteem.

According to the study, depression may also be associated with reduced connectivity between the reward brain area in the medial orbitofrontal cortex and memory systems in the brain, which could account for sufferers having a reduced focus on happy memories.

These new discoveries could herald a breakthrough in treating depression by going  to the root cause of the illness and helping depressed people to stop focusing on negative thoughts.

According Second Nexus, the study has been carried out by Edmund Rolls and Jianfeng Feng from Warwick, and Wei Cheng from Fudan University, as well as people from other centers in China.

In this particularly large study, almost 1,000 people in China had their brains scanned using high-precision MRI. This analyzed the connections between the medial adn lateral orbitofrontal cortex, which are the different parts of the human brain affected by depression.

Jianfeng Feng comments that depression is increasingly prevalent, and we can even detect remains of Prozac -- which is a depression drug -- in London's tap water.

The data allowed them to locate the roots of depression which should open up new avenues for better therapeutic treatments in the near future for the disease. 

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