Scientists may soon be able to predict depression by examining the way that different parts of the brain talk to each other, new research suggests.
Researchers at Duke University made a map of activity in the brains of mice, and found that some patterns were associated with depression.
Currently, depression is mostly diagnosed based on subjective questions and, in some cases, blood tests for thyroid conditions that may cause some cases of the mood disorder.
If their 'map' of brain activity translates to humans, the researchers believe their findings could one day be used to diagnose and even prevent depression.
Patterns of communication between brain areas may some day help doctors diagnose depression, a new study suggests
For more than 30 years, scientists and doctors have watched and compared activities in various regions of the brains of both people who seem to be more susceptible to depressive symptoms and those who appear more resilient in the face of stressors.
But by using methods of monitoring how different parts of the brain are working in sync developed in the last decade, researchers like Duke's Dr Kafui Dziarasa and Dr Miguel Nicolelis have come a step closer to a full picture of how the brains of people struggling with different mental illnesses behave.
'You can think of different brain regions as individual instruments in an orchestra,' Dzirasa said. 'We are interested in not just what each instrument is doing, but how the instruments coordinate themselves to generate music.
To simulate depression in the mice they studied, they had