Monday, June 08, 2009

Neuroscience: Measuring the impact of moods on information in visual cortex - help for depression?

Medical News Today reports (05 Jun 2009),
A University of Toronto study provides the first direct evidence that our mood literally changes the way our visual system filters our perceptual experience suggesting that seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses is more biological reality than metaphor.

"Good and bad moods literally change the way our visual cortex operates and how we see," says Adam Anderson, a U of T professor of psychology. "Specifically our study shows that when in a positive mood, our visual cortex takes in more information, while negative moods result in tunnel vision. The study appears in the Journal of Neuroscience.
This may be a valuable contribution to the study of depression. A depressed person can be hard to help because she may not experience good news as good news.

If you tell her she has been given a paid leave of absence to seek professional help, she may just sit there until you make the appointment, and take her yourself. It's no use arguing with her. Later, when she is on the road to recovery, she won't even be able to explain why she just sat there.

Her biggest challenge will be to learn to seek help on her own later, when she senses that she is starting into a depression - rather than waiting until it is a crisis.

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose