Studies Utilizing Quantitative MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

Structural Changes in the emotional brain (amygdala and hippocampus) have been observed via
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in patients with severe depression.   These authors suggest,
the longer the depression lasts, the worse the damage to the brain, siting findings of
periventricular hyperintensities and possible atrophy.
(E. Mervaala, J. Fohr, M. Kononen, et al 2000,
'Quantitative MRI of the hippocampus and amygdala in severe depression.'
Psychol Med 30:117-125)

Other authors also report, it appears that elevated stress hormones, esp. cortisol, are associated with
these atrophic changes in brain tissues.  Lowering cortisol "reverses human hippocampal atrophy..."
(MN Starkman, B Giordani, SS Gebarski, et al. 1999, 'Decrease in cortisol reverses human hippocampal atrophy
following treatment of Cushing's disease.' Biol Psychiatry 46:1595-1602)
(CB Nemeroff, KR Krishnan, D Reed et al. 1992.  'Adrenal gland enlargement in major depression:
a computed tomographic study.' Arch Gen Psychiatry 49:384-387)
(RS Duman, J Malberg, J Thome, 1999.  'Neural plasticity to stress and antidepressant treatment.'
Biol Psychiatry 46:1181-1191)


Psychopharmacology appears to be offering a moderate emotional anesthesia,
protecting against overwhelming waves of emotion.  When emotional triggers
are separated from reflex emotional responses, precise identification of personal
vulnerabilities can procede.   Repetitious patterns of reflex driven responses to
familiar provocative triggers can be identified and named.  
Willingness faces the wordless world of complicated emotional anatomy
for good and great purposes.
Albert Einstein.

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