Research identifies brain mechanism linking depression with sleep problems

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BEIJING, (Xinhua) — Scientists from China and Britain have identified the brain regions associated with depression and sleep problems.

The research, co-conducted by scientists from Fudan University, the University of Warwick and University of Oxford, could lead to better treatment of both problems.

Up to 70 percent of those suffering depression report poor sleep quality, and those with sleep problems are significantly more likely to be depressed.

Cheng Wei of Fudan University, one of the researchers, said the close relationship between the two symptoms was discovered more than 100 years ago, but the brain mechanism behind the relationship was still unclear.

“Through the mining of brain image data, we found the neural circuit that modulates the relationship between sleep quality and depressive symptoms,” Cheng was quoted as saying.

The research analyzed data from 10,000 people from the international brain image databases including the U.S. Human Connectome Project and the UK Biobank.

Results showed that some brain areas including the lateral orbitofrontal cortex (associated with negative emotion), the precuneus (associated with self awareness) and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (associated with short-term memory) were strongly associated with depression and sleep problems.

The findings have implications for targeted treatments of depression and improvements in sleep quality.

The research was published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Biola Lawal

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