Stanford scientists have found a brain pathway in rats that funnels all causes for depression, suggesting that there may be a similar mechanism in humans.
For years, medical scientists have tried to determine how the myriad causes of depression are expressed in the human brain, finding many possibilities with many treatments.
Scientists found a single pathway in rats in which all electrical activity happened that both caused and treated depression.
"I think this will help us make sense of how there can be so many different causes and treatments of depression," said Dr. Karl Deisseroth, assistant professor of bioengineering, psychiatry and behavioral sciences. He was the senior author of the study published last week in the online publication Science Express.
"It also helps us understand conceptually how something that seems as hard to get traction on as depression can have a really quantitative, concrete basis," Deisseroth said.
The value of the study, he added, is that "you can use that common pathway as the most efficient, most direct targeted way to find truly specific treatments."