Investigating the Social Brain
ORYGEN Research Centre & Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre
Investigating the social brain: The neural basis of the link between depressed states and social cognition.
CIs - Assoc Prof Nick Allen & Assoc Prof Murat Yücel; Ms Valentina Lorenzetti, Dr Emre Bora, Dr Alex Fornito, Dr Ben Harrison, Dr Chris Davey
About the Study
Depression is a serious public health issue, commonly characterized by feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and extensive periods of self-neglect/harm and social withdrawal. Recent research has highlighted a close link between social cognition (thoughts about other people and social situations), social behaviour, and depressed mood. This research shows that individuals vulnerable to depression respond differently to social threat information (i.e., threats of humiliation, defeat, and rejection), than individuals with no history of depression. Furthermore, the responses to social threat information by individuals with a history of depression, have been found to be highly predictive of depressive relapse.
To investigate these issues further, the current study will use brain imaging techniques that reveal which areas of the brain are activated when individuals view social threat stimuli versus other types of threat and non-threat related stimuli. This information will assist us in understanding the brain regions and mechanisms involved in these emotional and social-cognitive processes, and the way in which mood and social cognition interact to make people vulnerable to clinical depression.
The study will include individuals with no history of depression, individuals with a past history of depression, and individuals currently diagnosed as suffering from clinical depression. This will allow us to compare the pattern of brain activations between people who are currently depressed, vulnerable to depression, and healthy controls.
For More Information
Assoc Prof Nick Allen
Melbourne Health: MHREC 2005.012
St Vincents: HREC-A 48/05