Re­searchers spot brain pat­tern be­hind bad mood

Sunday Express - - XPLORE -

LOS AN­GE­LES: Sci­en­tists have iden­ti­fied a com­mon pat­tern of brain ac­tiv­ity be­hind bad mood, an ad­vance that could help de­velop new ther­a­pies for de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety.

Most hu­man brain re­search on mood dis­or­ders has re­lied on stud­ies in which par­tic­i­pants lie in an fMRI scan­ner and look at up­set­ting images or lis­ten to sad sto­ries. These stud­ies have helped sci­en­tists iden­tify brain ar­eas as­so­ci­ated with emo­tion in healthy and de­pressed in­di­vid­u­als, but they do not re­veal much about the nat­u­ral mood fluc­tu­a­tions that peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence over the course of a day or pro­vide in- sight into the ac­tual mech­a­nisms of brain ac­tiv­ity un­der­ly­ing mood.

Re­searchers from Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia (UC), San Francisco iden­ti­fied a com­mon pat­tern of brain ac­tiv­ity that may be be­hind those feel­ings of low mood, par­tic­u­larly in peo­ple who have a ten­dency towards anx­i­ety.

For the study pub­lished in the jour­nal Cell, re­searchers con­tin­u­ously recorded brain ac­tiv­ity for a week or more in hu­man vol­un­teers and linked their day-to­day mood swings to spe­cific pat­terns of brain ac­tiv­ity.

Re­searchers re­cruited 21 pa­tient vol­un­teers with epilepsy who had had 40 to 70 elec­trodes im­planted on the brain’s sur­face and in deeper struc­tures of the brain as part of stan­dard prepa­ra­tion for surgery to re­move seizure-caus­ing brain tis­sue.

They recorded a wide range of brain ac­tiv­ity in these pa­tients over the course of seven to 10 days, par­tic­u­larly fo­cus­ing on cer­tain deep brain struc­tures that have been pre­vi­ously im­pli­cated in mood reg­u­la­tion.

Mean­while, the pa­tients reg­u­larly logged their mood through­out the day with tablet-based soft­ware. Re­searchers then used com­pu­ta­tional al­go­rithms to match pat­terns of brain ac­tiv­ity to changes in the pa­tients’ re­ported mood. Find­ing such a pow­er­fully in­for­ma­tive biomarker was more than what was ex­pected.

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