With the help of functional MRI (fMRI) technology, researchers have been able to identify certain areas of the brain associated with poor sleep quality and depression, according to a study published July 25 in JAMA Psychiatry. 

These findings provides a neural basis for understanding how depression is associated with poor sleep quality, and this in turn has implications for treatment because of the brain areas identified.
Corresponding author Jianfeng Feng, PhD, of the Institute of Science and Technology or Brain-inspired Intelligence at Fudan University in Shanghai.

Feng and colleagues found a total of 162 function connections linked to key areas of the brain associated with sleep quality, including the precuneus, anterior cingulate cortex and the lateral orbitofrontal cortex. Of these, 39 were also associated with the Depressive Problems scores, according to the researchers. 

A mediation analysis showed that brain areas with increased functional connectivity associated with both sleep and depression included the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior and posterior cingulate cortices, insula, parahippocampal gyrus, hippocampus, amygdala, temporal cortex and precuneus. 

Strengths of the present investigation are the large number of participants (1017), leading to robust findings; cross validation with an independent data set; the mediation analysis, which links the findings to recent advances in understanding brain mechanisms associated with depression; and the inherent interest of the findings to a wide readership.


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