Functional Brain Imaging in Depression

Peter Forster Basic Science, Best Practices, Major Depression, Psychobiology, Testing, Treatments of Depression

Is there a role for functional brain imaging in depression? Many people seeking treatment are interested in the notion that the brain imaging, particularly imaging that looks at neural activity, might be useful in guiding treatment. Up until the last couple of years the answer to this question has always been that the role is primarily restricted to research settings …

A Possible Cause of Bipolar Mania

Peter Forster Basic Science, Psychobiology

A recently published article by a group of Korean researchers hints at a possible cause of bipolar mania. The finding underlines the complex biology of bipolar disorder and perhaps why coming up with a biological mechanism for the dramatic shifts in behavior in bipolar has been so difficult. Background A number of pieces of evidence have suggested that phospholipase C signaling may be …

Depression Biology and Treatment

Peter Forster Anxiety, Basic Science, Major Depression, Psychobiology, Treatments of Depression

New research on depression biology and treatment highlights the rapid increase in knowledge in this area in the last decade. In this post we will summarize some of these research findings briefly. This brief tour will take us to a newly discovered protein that may be a vital link between stress and depression. A genome wide search for changes associated …

Significance of Events and Serotonin 2A

Peter Forster Basic Science, Psychobiology

Making sense of the constant bombardment of information and sensory experience that all of us face requires the ability to determine the significance of events, and an elegant study suggests that the serotonin 2A receptor plays a critical role in determining significance. Many psychiatric conditions and human experiences are associated with the misattribution of meaning to events. For example, delusional disorder …

Poverty and Adversity Changes Brain Function

Peter Forster Basic Science

A remarkable study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry identifies ways that the experience of poverty and adversity changes brain function. Specifically, the study finds that adolescents growing up in lower socioeconomic environments are more likely to have the gene that codes for the serotonin transporter protein methylated in a region that is associated with increased reactivity of the amygdala to threat. …

Depression, Anhedonia, Glutamate, and Inflammation

Peter Forster Basic Science, Major Depression, Psychobiology

That depression may be linked to alterations in glutamate circuits is suggested by the observation that ketamine (which is an NMDA glutamate receptor antagonist) may rapidly reverse depression in some patients. Depression has also been found to be associated in some people with various markers for inflammation (c reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor, interleukin 1 beta, and interleukin 6). As …

Depression and Inflammation

Peter Forster Basic Science, Major Depression, Psychobiology

Is depression one of a series of illnesses caused by inflammation? There has been a lot of interest in the last year in the idea that inflammation (activation of the body’s immune system) might be a cause as well as a consequence of depression. One theory suggests that depression might be an inflammatory disorder, rather than a disorder of altered neurotransmitter levels. Certainly …

Norepinephrine dopamine and depression

Peter Forster Basic Science, Major Depression, Psychobiology, Treatments of Depression

In an elegant set of studies published in February 2016 in Nature Neuroscience the team of Bruno Giros, a researcher at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and Professor of Psychiatry at McGill University, reports the first-ever connection between noradrenergic neurons and vulnerability to depression. The study involved research using probably the most well developed animal model for depression – chronic or …

Functional Brain Imaging and Antidepressant Response

Peter Forster Basic Science, Testing, Treatments of Depression

One of the most exciting initiatives currently in the important area of  the treatment of depression is the International Study to Predict Optimized Treatment in Depression (iSPOT-D). This large multi-center initiative is based on a private industry and academic partnership that is designed to both identify best practices in the treatment of depression and also commercialize them. The most recent publication from this …

Oxytocin in Humans

Peter Forster Basic Science, Psychobiology

The February 2016 edition of Biological Psychiatry focused on the neurohormone oxytocin and its effects on both normal and abnormal human behavior as well as its potential role in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. This is apropos given that oxytocin has been described as the “love hormone” and Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, but oxytocin is involved in …