Every cloud has a silver lining. We just have to learn how to look at things from a different perspective. In fact, a recent Stanford study has uncovered that girls are quite adept at it. Apparently, they can rewire their brains to look at more positive experiences, blocking the possible onset of depression.
The study involved girls who were around 10 to 14 years old and whose mothers showed symptoms of depression, making them prime candidates for depression themselves. They underwent a functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) session while being shown less than pleasant images to track how much blood flowed into their brains. Since depressed people are prone to overreact to negative experiences, researchers then paid close attention to the amygdala region of the brain.
During the experiment, researchers also asked the participants to look at the line on the graph showing their actual results on the FMRI machine. They were then asked if they could try lowering the line a little. The girls were quite surprised that they were able to comply with the task easily.
Another experiment, called the dot-probe task, helped the participants exercise positive rewiring. Here, the girls were wired to a computer and were shown two different faces on a screen at a time varying across the expressions happy, sad, or blank. When a dot appeared on the screen, the girls clicked on it and were led away from the negative image toward the positive one. According to the researchers, this kept the girls from overreacting.
The study, though promising, has quite a ways to go. Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the researchers say that they expect the study to go on for around 5 to 10 years more.
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(Photo by roxinasz via sxc.hu)