The region of the brain that notes down negative events works in a reverse manner in depressives.
An area of the human brain that is supposed to react to adverse experiences shows paradoxical behavior in people afflicted with depression. This is in contrast with those who, besides the psychopathology of everyday life, are otherwise normal.
The study regarding this strange effect was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. Apparently the habenula which is the size of a chickpea functions in an erratic way in depressive patients.
It was even activated in healthy volunteers when they were about to receive a jolt of electricity. Thus the theory suggests that a habenula that has gone into overdrive tends to maintain the status of depression.
The scientists decided to find out more regarding this. It came as a big surprise when the results contradicted the prediction. In those who had depression, habenula activity simmered down upon anticipation of an electric shock.
Thus in depressives, the reaction is the opposite of what occurs in a normal individual. Much of this shocking discovery remains a mystery, yet it is a sign that some things ought to be rethought.
50 people were included in the study. Half of them had depression. Half didn’t. Brain scans of both were taken with MRI facilities. Different pictures were shown to the participants as they had their brain scans taken.
Some were pleasant pictures depicted negative and unpleasant scenes. Those pictures which showed electric shocks which were about to be administered had opposite reactions in depressives and non-depressives.
In healthy people, the habenula was activated. In the depressed, the habenula’s activity was decreased considerably. The size of the habenula in both types of people was the same.
Yet the fact remains that those with a smaller than average habenula tended to show little to no pleasure in life and its activities. They portrayed classic symptoms of anhedonia.
The habenula and the crucial part it plays in depression needs further research. What goes on in the black box of the brain is much more complex than the scientists’ models or the computer simulations for that matter.
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The deactivation of symptoms in the habenula shows that it has a protective effect against the scourge of depression. The habenula may help us avoid negativity and negative thoughts in general. When this trend is destroyed, you automatically get what is termed full-fledged depression.