Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Small hippocampus associated with depression in the elderly: Risk factor or shrinkage?

Date:
July 22, 2011
Source:
Elsevier
Summary:
Imaging studies have repeatedly found that people with depression have smaller hippocampal volumes than healthy individuals. The hippocampus is a brain region involved in learning and memory, spatial navigation, and the evaluation of complex life situations or "contexts". However, because in prior studies hippocampal volume was only measured in people once they became depressed, it has been unclear whether a small hippocampus renders a person vulnerable to developing depression, or whether it is a consequence of depression.

Imaging studies have repeatedly found that people with depression have smaller hippocampal volumes than healthy individuals. The hippocampus is a brain region involved in learning and memory, spatial navigation, and the evaluation of complex life situations or "contexts." However, because in prior studies hippocampal volume was only measured in people once they became depressed, it has been unclear whether a small hippocampus renders a person vulnerable to developing depression, or whether it is a consequence of depression.

Related Articles


A new study published in Biological Psychiatry has approached that problem by following a large population of elderly individuals over a 10 year period.

Researchers performed an initial imaging scan on subjects to obtain a baseline measurement of their hippocampal volume and then performed follow-up scans 5 and 10 years later. During this time, they also repeatedly assessed the individuals for both depressive symptoms and depressive disorders.

Corresponding author Dr. Tom den Heijer explains their findings: "We found that persons with a smaller hippocampus were not at higher risk to develop depression. In contrast, those with depression declined in volume over time. Our study therefore suggests that a small hippocampal volume in depressed patients is more likely an effect of the depression rather than a cause."

"The principal importance of this type of research is that it may provide insight into age-related impairments in the function of the hippocampus," reflected Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry. "For example, in Alzheimer's disease, memory problems and disorientation are prominent symptoms, reflecting among other things the impaired function of the hippocampus."

Future studies will be needed to better understand whether current treatments protect the hippocampus and hippocampal function.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Elsevier. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tom den Heijer, Henning Tiemeier, Hendrika J. Luijendijk, Fedde van der Lijn, Peter J. Koudstaal, Albert Hofman, Monique M.B. Breteler. A Study of the Bidirectional Association Between Hippocampal Volume on Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Depression in the Elderly. Biological Psychiatry, 2011; 70 (2): 191 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2011.04.014

Cite This Page:

Elsevier. "Small hippocampus associated with depression in the elderly: Risk factor or shrinkage?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110719094021.htm>.
Elsevier. (2011, July 22). Small hippocampus associated with depression in the elderly: Risk factor or shrinkage?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110719094021.htm
Elsevier. "Small hippocampus associated with depression in the elderly: Risk factor or shrinkage?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110719094021.htm (accessed April 19, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers found a spike in oxytocin occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other&apos;s eyes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers who analyzed data from over 300,000 kids and their mothers say they&apos;ve found a link between gestational diabetes and autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Video Messages Help Reassure Dementia Patients

Video Messages Help Reassure Dementia Patients

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Family members are prerecording messages as part of a unique pilot program at the Hebrew Home in New York. The videos are trying to help victims of Alzheimer&apos;s disease and other forms of dementia break through the morning fog of forgetfulness. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Common Pain Reliever Might Dull Your Emotions

Common Pain Reliever Might Dull Your Emotions

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2015) Each week, millions of Americans take acetaminophen to dull minor aches and pains. Now researchers say it might blunt life&apos;s highs and lows, too. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins