Scientists at the University of Edinburgh used a cutting-edge technique known as diffusion tensor imaging. To map the structure of white matter. Changes in the brain’s structure that could be the result of depression have been identified in a major scanning study.
The study of more than 3000 people the largest of its type to date sheds light on the biology of depression. The help in the search for better diagnosis and treatment. White matter is a key component of the brain’s wiring and its disruption. Linked to problems with emotion processing and thinking skills.
Further, alterations found in parts of the brain known as white matter. It contains fiber tracts that enable brain cells to communicate with one another by electrical signals.
3461 Large number of people included in the sample
The quality of the matter called ‘White Matter Integrity’ is reduced in people with symptoms indicative of depression. The same changes not seen in unaffected people.
Moreover, depression is the world’s leading cause of disability, affecting around a fifth of UK adults over a lifetime. Symptoms include low mood, exhaustion and feelings of emptiness. Experts say the large number of people included in the sample 3461means that the study findings are very robust. Participants drawn from UK Biobank, a national research resource with health data available from 500,000 volunteers.
In addition, the study forms part of a Welcome Trust initiative called Stratifying Resilience and Depression Longitudinally (STRADL). This aims to classify sub types of depression and identify risk factors.
Furthermore, Heather Whalley, Senior Research Fellow in the University of Edinburgh’s Division of Psychiatry, said: This study uses data from the largest single sample published to date and shows that people with depression have changes in the white matter wiring of their brain. There is an urgent need to provide treatment for depression and an improved understanding of it mechanisms will give us a better chance of developing new and more effective methods of treatment.
Finally, researchers next steps will be to look at how the absence of changes in the brain relates to better protection from distress and low mood.