Neural link between depressive problems and bad sleep identified

Researchers at Fudan University in Shanghai and the University of Warwick in the UK have identified a neural link between depression and sleep problems for the first time.

Researchers at Fudan University in Shanghai and the University of Warwick in the UK have identified a neural link between depression and sleep problems for the first time in a new study.

The research finding was published in JAMA Psychiatry, an American medical journal, on Wednesday.

Professor Feng Jianfeng and Dr. Cheng Wei from Fudan, together with Professor Edmund Rolls from Warwick’s Department of Computer Science, found intensive functional connectivity between the areas of the brain associated with short-term memory, self and negative emotions, which may lead to poor sleep quality.

With brain imaging data of about 10,000 people from the databases of the American Human Connectome Project and UK Biobank, the researchers examined the neural mechanisms for depression and quality of sleep.

In the brains of those suffering depression and sleeping problems, they discovered a strong connection between the precuneus, an area of the brain associated with the self, the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, an area associated with negative emotion, and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, associated with short-term memory.

The implication is that increased functional connectivity between these regions of the brain provides a neural basis for how depression is related to poor sleep quality.

This research is expected to inspire new treatments to improve sleep quality for people with depression.

“This study may have implications for a deeper understanding of depression,” said Rolls. “This important cross-validation with participants from the US provides support for the theory that the lateral orbitofrontal cortex is a key brain area that might be targeted in the search for treatments for depression.”

Feng said that these findings could have important public health implications, as both sleep problems and depression affect a large number of people.


Special Reports
Top