Scientists identify important differences in neural activity. 

Researchers have used brain scans to predict which patients with depression will respond to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), a first line treatment that remains ineffective for more than half of patients who try it.

A team led by Filippo Queirazza and Marios Philiastides, from the University of Glasgow, UK, gave 37 people with low grade depression MRI brain scans before and after a course of computer-based CBT.

They were prompted by the rather dismal fact that CBT, which gets patients to weigh up the evidence for negative beliefs and relinquish those that don’t bear scrutiny, is only effective in up to 45% of people.

Given the labour-intensive nature of CBT – face-to-face sessions can go for 20 weeks – and the fact that some people even get worse with it, working out who will respond is crucial.

To answer that question the researchers focused on something known to go wrong in the brains of depression sufferers; studies have found they have blunted responses to both the pleasure of reward and the pain of punishment.

Read the full article in Cosmos magazine here