Washington: New research has used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to show that those suffering from depression had decreased connectivity between several key regions of the brain responsible for emotional behaviour, learning, memory and decision making.
Major depressive disorder is characterised 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 to experience pleasure and prolongs negative thoughts and feelings.
Researchers from Stanford University compared the fMRI scans of women who were resting but still awake, the journal Biology of Mood and Anxiety Disorders reports.
Half of the women were diagnosed with depression at the time of the scan and the other group consisted of women who did not currently have, nor had ever had, severe depression, according to a university statement.
fMRI measures changes in blood flow and by overlaying images of depressed and unaffected brains, a number of differences came to light.
Daniella Furman, who led the study, explained: "In addition to decreased connectivity between emotion processing regions of the brain, we found that depression was linked to an increase in connectivity between the dorsal caudate and an area of the prefrontal cortex."