A multidisciplinary team of clinicians and scientists at the universities of Aberdeen and Dundee have shown for the first time that successful treatment of severe depression with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) alters the brain’s functional connectivity in a lasting way. Professor Christian Schwarzbauer, SINAPSE Chair in Neuroimaging, said: “Despite being used successfully in clinical practice around the world for more than 70 years, the underlying mechanisms of ECT have so far remained unclear. Our findings do not only reveal the mechanism of action of ECT, but also provide further evidence that severe depression is linked to functional hyperconnectivity. In the longer term, these findings may lead to the development of new drug targets and therapies.” The original study was published in PNAS and attracted widespread interest in the national and international media. For further information see, Science or TIME magazine.
SINAPSE PhD student Susanne Merz was involved in the development of a new functional connectivity analysis method that was applied in this study to investigate how more than 25,000 areas in the brain ‘communicated’ with each other in severely depressed patients. Professor Dave Wyper, SINAPSE Director, said: “SINAPSE provides a fantastic environment for PhD students to be actively involved in cutting-edge multidisciplinary research”. Over the years, SINAPSE has successfully attracted many outstanding students from all over the world.