From the Daily Beast: “A new study reveals that people suffering from depression are characterized by an extreme synchronicity of brain regions that could indicate stymied, inflexible brains.”
In people with depression, brain regions appear to be overly connected to one another, says the study, which is being published by UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. In turn, this excessive connectivity reduces the flexibility the brain needs to function properly.
“Depression is a whole brain disease,” says Dr. Andrew Leuchter, the Semel Institute neuroscientist who led the team that produced the study. “It’s not something that affects just one brain region, but that the entire organ doesn’t appear to be functioning very well.”
Joy Hirsch, a neuroscientist at Columbia who was not involved in this research, remarked on the usefulness of its finding. “Measures of connectivity between remote brain regions is an emerging metric to assess the strength of interactions between remote regions within the brain,” she told The Daily Beast. “The discovery that these patterns are affected in depression is important because it says that information may be distributed differently. This is a novel insight.” …
(Leuchter) acknowledges a couple of limitations to the study. His results don’t allow him to conclude whether this hyperconnectivity is something that changes with successful treatment or whether it always tends to mark the brains of people predisposed to depression.
Leuchter and his team also have not yet closely explored the link between an individual subject’s particular symptoms and that same subject’s pattern of hyperconnectivity. Once that is done, they may be able to draw conclusions about what specific connections might correlate with specific symptoms.
These are both areas of inquiry, he says, that can be usefully explored in future research.