New research has unearthed more clues to help understand the physical cause for depression. Researchers from the U.K.’s University of Warwick and the Fudan University in China found that the part of the brain involved in non-reward is linked to depression.
The study published Friday in the journal Brain found that the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, which is involved in non-reward is affected by depression hence giving patients a sense of loss and disappointment associated with not receiving rewards.
“More than one in ten people in their life time suffer from depression, a disease which is so common in modern society,” Jianfeng Feng from the University of Warwick, said in a statement.
“Our finding, with the combination of big data we collected around the world and our novel methods, enables us to locate the roots of depression which should open up new avenues for better therapeutic treatments in the near future for this horrible disease,” he added.
Researchers analyzed the brain scans of at least 1,000 people in China to observe the changes in the medial and lateral orbitofrontal cortex brought about by depression.
The lateral orbitofrontal cortex is activated when a person does not receive rewards and is linked to the part of brain that is involved in self-esteem hence triggering feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem.
Depression is also linked to poor connectivity between the brain’s reward center in the medial orbitofrontal cortex and the brain’s memory centers. This could be the reason behind patients’ inability to focus on happy memories.
“The new findings on how depression is related to different functional connectivities of the orbitofrontal cortex have implications for treatments in the light of a recent non-reward attractor theory of depression,” Edmund Rolls from the University of Warwick said in the statement.