Depression

Whereas healthy humans show an optimism bias, expecting the future to be slightly better than it ends up being, people with mild depression are more realistic when predicting future events, and people with severe depression tend to expect things to be worse than they turn out (Strunk et al., 2006). Decreased regulatory influence of the rostral anterior cingulate cortex over the amygdala has been suggested to cause depressive symptoms (Drevets et al., 2008). Parallel to this, we found that increased functional connectivity between these two structures is correlated with optimistic expectations in healthy individuals (Sharot et al., 2007). We have recently begun to study depression directly. Our findings suggest that unlike healthy individuals, people suffering from depression update their beliefs equally in response to positive and negative information. We are currently investigating the neural systems that result in this lack of bias and are exploring ways to reinstate it in depressed individuals.

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