Summary: A new study examines the relationship between brain function and the impact of life events on depressive symptoms.
A study in adolescent girls reports that recent life events impact depressive symptoms differently, depending on how the brain responds to winning and losing. A strong brain response to winning boosted the beneficial impact of positive experiences on symptoms, whereas a strong response to losing enhanced the detrimental impact of negative experiences on symptoms.
The findings were published in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging.
“This finding helps refine our understanding of how two types of known risk factors for depression, life events exposure and neural response to wins and losses, might interact to influence depression,” said first author Katherine Luking, PhD, of Stony Brook University, New York. The link between brain response, impact of daily experiences, and depressive symptoms in the study indicates that brain function determines how life experiences contribute to risk for and protection against depressive symptoms.
Exposure to negative life events in particular has been strongly linked to increased risk for depression. “This study is novel in that we go beyond negative events to investigate the unique effects of both positive and negative life events on depressive symptoms during a vulnerable time in development, early adolescence,” said Dr. Luking.
Adolescent girls, 8-14 years old, performed a task in which they could win or lose money. Girls with a stronger brain response to winning showed a relationship between positive life events dependent on their behavior–such as making a new friend–and reduced depressive symptoms. According to Dr. Luking, this means that “girls whose brains are more responsive to winning are better able to reap the benefits of the positive experiences that they create in their own lives.”
The study also found that girls with a strong response to losses showed a relationship between negative life events independent of their behavior–such as experiencing a natural disaster–and increased depressive symptoms. This means that “girls whose brains are more responsive to losing are more vulnerable to the effects of negative events, particularly those beyond their control,” said Dr. Luking.
“These results provide a window into how mechanisms in the brain might be targeted to modify the effects of positive and negative experiences on the moods of girls during a critical developmental period in their lives,” said Cameron Carter, MD, Editor of Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. The findings suggest that treatments designed to increase responses to winning or decrease responses to losing could help strengthen the effect of positive experiences or reduce the harmful effect of negative experiences. Modifying the effects of these experiences could help protect against or reduce the risk for depression.
About this neuroscience research article
Source: Rhiannon Bugno – Elsevier Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com. Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain. Original Research: Abstract for “Ventral Striatal Function Interacts with Positive and Negative Life Events to Predict Concurrent Youth Depressive Symptoms” by Katherine R. Luking PhD, Brady D. Nelson PhD, Zachary P.,Infantolino PhD, Colin L. Sauder PhD, and Greg Hajcak PhD in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. Published July 30 2018. doi:10.1016/j.bpsc.2018.07.007
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[cbtabs][cbtab title=”MLA”]Elsevier”Brain Function Impacts How Experiences Contribute to Depression.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 7 September 2018. <https://neurosciencenews.com/experience-depression-brain-function-9815/>.[/cbtab][cbtab title=”APA”]Elsevier(2018, September 7). Brain Function Impacts How Experiences Contribute to Depression. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved September 7, 2018 from https://neurosciencenews.com/experience-depression-brain-function-9815/[/cbtab][cbtab title=”Chicago”]Elsevier”Brain Function Impacts How Experiences Contribute to Depression.” https://neurosciencenews.com/experience-depression-brain-function-9815/ (accessed September 7, 2018).[/cbtab][/cbtabs]
Ventral Striatal Function Interacts with Positive and Negative Life Events to Predict Concurrent Youth Depressive Symptoms
Background Life events and reward system functioning contribute to resilience and risk for depression. However, interactions between life events and neural responses to reward and loss in relation to depression symptoms have not been investigated in child and adolescent populations.
Methods An unselected sample (N=130) of 8 to 14 year-old girls (M = 12.6) completed the Child Depression Inventory and an fMRI guessing task where they won or lost money on each trial. Parents completed a measure of life events experienced by the child. Life events were separated by positive versus negative, and whether they were likely related or unrelated to the daughter’s behavior (i.e, dependent versus independent, respectively). Multiple regressions tested whether the interaction between ventral striatal (VS) response to wins or losses and recent life events were associated with child-reported depressive symptoms.
Results A greater number of dependent positive life events related to decreased total depression symptoms when VS response to wins was robust. Conversely, a greater number of independent negative life events related to increased negative mood depression symptoms when VS response to losses was robust; this relationship was in the opposite direction when VS response to loss was low.
Conclusions VS response to reward and loss were independent moderators of the relationship between recent life events (positive and negative, respectively) and depressive symptoms. Findings suggest that targeting neural responses, i.e. increasing response to winning or decreasing responses to losing, may be important for both improving resilience and reducing risk in different environmental contexts.