Virtual Brain Gives Insights Into Memory Deficits in Depression

Posted on June 9, 2018

It was previously known that people in an acute depressive episode were less likely to remember current events. This new computational model, however, suggests that older memories were affected as well. How long the memory deficits reach back depends on how long the depressive episode lasts.

In major depressive disorder patients may suffer from such severe cognitive impairments that, in some cases, are called pseudodementia. Unlike in the classic form of dementia, in pseudodementia, memory recovers when the depressive episode ends. To understand this process, scientists developed a computational model that captures the characteristic features of the brain of a patient with depressions. They tested the ability of the model to store and recall new memories.

The computational model recalled memories more accurately, if the responsible brain region was able to form many new neurons, just like the scientists expected. However, if the brain region formed fewer new brain cells, it was harder to distinguish similar memories and to recall them separately. Also, the computational model not only showed deficits in recalling current events, it also struggled with memories that were collected before the depressive episode. The longer the depressive episode lasted the further the memory problems reached back.

According to computational neuroscientist Prof Dr Sen Cheng, if their model is right, major depressive disorder could have consequences that are more far reaching. Once remote memories have been damaged, they do not recover, even after the depression has subsided.


Source material from Science Daily

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