Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Inherited Depression Risk Linked to Brain Structure Abnormalities

Depression risk passed down through families may be due, in part, to structural thinning in a region of the brain that processes social and emotional stimuli, researchers said.

People with a family history of major depression had a 28% reduction in the thickness of gray matter in the right cerebral hemisphere compared to people with no known risk, Bradley Peterson, M.D., of the Columbia University Medical Center and New York State Psychiatric Institute, and colleagues found.

The effect was "remarkable for its magnitude and spatial extent," rivaling morphological abnormalities of the most severe neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia and Alzheimer's diseases, they reported online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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