Jul 11, 2017

Depression looks different in the brains of boys and girls

Polina Shuvaeva / iStock

Scientists have long known that depression expresses differently in men and women, but new research shows that those differences are brain-deep. The study, published Tuesday in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry, found variations in the activity of two regions of the brain associated with depression (the supramarginal gyrus and posterior cingulate) in adolescent boys and girls.

Why it matters: According to the CDC, women are almost twice as likely to experience depression as men, but men are more likely to experience chronic depression and commit suicide. Additionally, say the researchers, most research on depression focuses on women because it's more common. By understanding how the brains of men and women behave when they're depressed, scientists hope to develop better diagnosis and treatment.

What they did: The study participants were given what's called a go/no-go task. They were shown a group of words — some considered to be happy or sad — and were instructed to press a button when certain words appeared on the screen. As the participants completed the task, the researchers used an fMRI to see how each group's brains responded to the happy or sad words.

Limitations:

The study has a fairly small sample size — 82 depressed females between the ages of 11 and 18 and 24 healthy females in the same age bracket. But they had difficulty recruiting males, perhaps because of the lower prevalence of depression, so their study included only 24 depressed males and 10 healthy males.

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Antarctica's Eagle Island now has a side that's almost ice-free following this month's searing heat wave in the region, images released by NASA show.

Why it maters: "The warm spell caused widespread melting on nearby glaciers," NASA said in its report. It's the third major melt event of the 2019-2020 Southern Hemisphere summer, following warm spells in January and last November, according to the United Nation's World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

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South Korea and Italy see spikes in coronavirus cases

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The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel and Lebanon, while Iran reported its sixth death from the virus. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 Friday to 433 on Saturday and Italy's case count rose from 3 to 62 by Saturday.

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