Are “Hyper-Connected” Brains Causing Depression?

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Brain Illustration

New findings may change our understanding of how depression functions, as researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago say young adults who have experienced adolescent depression seem to have “hyper-connected” networks within their brains.

These claims come from a study, published in the Aug. 27 edition of the journal PLoS One, where the researchers had 30 volunteers between the ages of 18 and 23 undergo brain scans. The participants in this group all had experienced depression within their teenage years. Their results were compared against a control group of 23 young adults who had no history of depression.

When scanning the brains, the researchers saw that many of the regions of the brain in those with a history of depression were overly connected, causing them to “communicate” with each other too much. This hyperconnectivity is related to rumination, in which a person constantly thinks about a problem without actively attempting to find a solution.

“Rumination is not a very healthy way of processing emotion,” study corresponding author Scott Langenecker, associate professor of psychiatry and psychology, said in a university news release. “Rumination is a risk factor for depression and for reoccurrence of depression if you’ve had it in the past.”

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