Hyperintensities in deep brain structures are associated with depressive symptoms

Damage to specific parts of the human brain are associated with a greater risk of depression in older people – but keeping fit and intelligence can reduce symptoms, according to new research. Scientists at Aberdeen University used MRI scans and statistical modelling to find the link between areas of brain damage, intelligence, physical fitness and depression. Scotsman

A Murray et al Brain hyperintensity location determines outcome in the triad of impaired cognition, physical health and depressive symptoms: A cohort study in late life Archives of Gerontology and Geriatics 2016 Volume 63, Pages 49–54

(Hyperintensity is a term used in MRI reports to describe how part of an image looks on MRI scan. Most MRIs are in black/white with shades of gray. A hyperintensity is an area that appears lighter in colour than the surrounding tissues.)


Early childhood depression alters brain development

The brains of children who suffer clinical depression as preschoolers develop abnormally, compared with the brains of preschoolers unaffected by the disorder, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. EurekAlert

JL Luby et al (2015) Early childhood depression and alterations in the trajectory of gray matter maturation in middle childhood and early adolescence? JAMA Psychiatry


Faulty prospection may be the core process underlying depression

Prospection: the mental representation of possible futures. A negative view of the future is typically seen as one symptom of depression, but researchers suggest that such negative prospection is the core causal element of depression.

Their meta analysis suggests that three kinds of faulty prospection, taken together, could drive depression:

  1. Poor generation of possible futures
  2. Poor evaluation of possible futures
  3. Negative beliefs about the future

Depressed mood and poor functioning, in turn, may maintain faulty prospection and feed a vicious cycle.

The researchers suggest that future-oriented treatment strategies drawn from cognitive-behavioural therapy help to fix poor prospection.

Roepke, A. M. and Seligman, M. E. P. (2015), Depression and prospection. British Journal of Clinical Psychology