For music lovers, there aren’t many experiences as pleasing as listening in on a favorite piece of music. Most people report feeling happy or satisfied when hearing their favorite band or instrumentalist, but a recently performed study has suggested that people with symptoms of depression may miss out on this basic pleasure, as well as most others. Analyzing the brains of a number of participants, a team from the Lawson Health Research institute sought to explore the possible effects of depression on the pleasure centers of the mind responsible in many cases for making people feel good or rewarded.
Attaching participants to MRI equipment, the research team asked each subject in two distinct groups, one with associations with clinical depression, and others without, to list their favorite music. The researchers then exposed the participants to this music, along with various selections that were not included in their favorites. Though the participants’ reported feelings about hearing the music varied, the brain activity images told a separate story. Those with feelings of depression showed a significantly decreased amount of brain activity in areas associated with the reception of pleasure in contrast to the control group participants.
The study sheds light on the idea that traditional methods of motivating and rewarding may not be ideal for people with feelings of depression. Adding to the prominent call for greater research into more effective treatment for those confronting this common challenge, the study may prompt many more investigations into the potential of new mechanisms and systems to reach therapy clients with greater ease. As a growing number of people throughout the world report feeling depressed, the search for better treatment in therapy and in the doctor’s office is gaining great momentum.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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