Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain scans support Freud: Guilt plays key role in depression

Date:
June 4, 2012
Source:
University of Manchester
Summary:
Scientists have shown that the brains of people with depression respond differently to feelings of guilt -- even after their symptoms have subsided.

Scientists have shown that the brains of people with depression respond differently to feelings of guilt -- even after their symptoms have subsided.

University of Manchester researchers found that the brain scans of people with a history of depression differed in the regions associated with guilt and knowledge of socially acceptable behaviour from individuals who never get depressed.

The study -- published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry -- provides the first evidence of brain mechanisms to explain Freud's classical observation that exaggerated guilt and self-blame are key to understanding depression.

Lead researcher Dr Roland Zahn, from the University's School of Psychological Sciences, said: "Our research provides the first brain mechanism that could explain the classical observation by Freud that depression is distinguished from normal sadness by proneness to exaggerated feelings of guilt or self-blame.

"For the first time, we chart the regions of the brain that interact to link detailed knowledge about socially appropriate behaviour -- the anterior temporal lobe -- with feelings of guilt -- the subgenual region of the brain -- in people who are prone to depression."

The study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the brains of a group of people after remission from major depression for more than a year, and a control group who have never had depression. Both groups were asked to imagine acting badly, for example being 'stingy' or 'bossy' towards their best friends. They then reported their feelings to the research team.

"The scans revealed that the people with a history of depression did not 'couple' the brain regions associated with guilt and knowledge of appropriate behaviour together as strongly as the never depressed control group do," said Dr Zahn, a MRC Clinician Scientist Fellow.

"Interestingly, this 'decoupling' only occurs when people prone to depression feel guilty or blame themselves, but not when they feel angry or blame others. This could reflect a lack of access to details about what exactly was inappropriate about their behaviour when feeling guilty, thereby extending guilt to things they are not responsible for and feeling guilty for everything."

The research, part-funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), is important because it reveals brain mechanisms underlying specific symptoms of depression that may explain why some people react to stress with depression rather than aggression.

The team is now investigating whether the results from the study can be used to predict depression risk after remission of a previous episode. If successful, this could provide the first fMRI marker of risk of future depression.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Green S., Lambon Ralph M., Moll J., Deakin J.F.W., Zahn R. Guilt-selective functional disconnection of anterior temporal and subgenual cortices in major depressive disorder. Archives of General Psychiatry, (in press). 2012 [link]

Cite This Page:

University of Manchester. "Brain scans support Freud: Guilt plays key role in depression." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120604181847.htm>.
University of Manchester. (2012, June 4). Brain scans support Freud: Guilt plays key role in depression. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120604181847.htm
University of Manchester. "Brain scans support Freud: Guilt plays key role in depression." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120604181847.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping School Violence

Stopping School Violence

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A trauma doctor steps out of the hospital and into the classroom to teach kids how to calmly solve conflicts, avoiding a trip to the ER. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A tiny cyst in the brain that can cause debilitating symptoms like chronic headaches and insomnia, and the doctor who performs the delicate surgery to remove them. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Burning Away Brain Tumors

Burning Away Brain Tumors

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Doctors are 'cooking' brain tumors. Hear how this new laser-heat procedure cuts down on recovery time. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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