Don't Sleep on It

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Science  20 Dec 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6165, pp. 1418
DOI: 10.1126/science.342.6165.1418-c

Sleep deprivation has long been established as a helpful tool for the treatment of patients suffering from depression. However, how and why it works are still unknown. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have indicated that large-scale brain network connectivity, especially in the so-called default mode network, seems to be changed in depression. Bosch et al. investigated whether sleep deprivation could influence this brain connectivity. They discovered that sleep deprivation decreased functional connectivity between a brain area called the posterior cingulate cortex and the bilateral anterior cingulate cortex. In contrast, connectivity between the dorsal nexus, a region that plays a crucial role in the pathophysiology of depression, and two areas within the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was increased. These sleep deprivation–induced changes in resting-state connectivity indicate a shift in dominance from a more affective to a more cognitive network. This shift toward improved cognitive control should be particularly beneficial in depressed patients who suffer from rumination, negative anticipation, and excessive feelings of guilt and shame.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 110, 19597 (2013).

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