T.There are no coincidences here. Things don’t work by chance and I like to learn about what happens. This is especially true of how my brain generates mood and anxiety symptoms. Likewise? Let’s dive into Brodmann areas. I think you will find this fascinating …
Can you see the role Brodmann areas play in depression interventions? Deep brain stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation have become effective treatments.
When it comes to alleviating our mood and anxiety issues, many of us look solely to the drug development pipeline. I can understand this, but the contribution of things like what you are reading right now is just as important and hopeful – if not more.
I did some research and came across an article on ScienceDaily entitled “How the Brain Balances Emotion and Reason”. It was a short piece detailing the recent work of Mary Kate P. Joyce and coworkers and was published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
I’ve read how mood disorders like depression get the emotional balance upset, resulting in uncontrolled negative emotions and the inability to stop rumination. Then I read that all of this emotional balance business is being done from area 32 of the brain region. And if that wasn’t enough, the article states that people with depression often have an overactive area 25 involved in emotional expression.
Now I am very familiar with Area 51, the classified air force facility in Nevada. But area 32, area 25? I needed to know more …
What are Brodmann areas?
In 1909, the German anatomist Korbinian Brodmann defined and numbered regions of the cerebral cortex using cytoarchitecture – the study of the cellular composition of the tissues of the central nervous system under a microscope. There are 52 Brodmann areas in humans.
Before we go any further, let’s make sure we understand what the cerebral cortex is. The cortex is the 2-4 millimeter thick outer covering of the surface of our brain halves. It’s all gray matter and makes up 40% of our brain mass. Without the cerebral cortex, we have no attention, perception, awareness, thinking, memory, language, awareness, or sensory and motor functions.
Why was Brodmann so intensively involved with the work? Well, it was about organization because different parts of the cortex are involved in different cognitive and behavioral functions. And how they work together makes us who we are.
Brodmann areas and depression
Back to the research article: Brodmann area 32 (BA32) is the dorsal anterior cingulate. According to Joyce’s work, the area maintains emotional balance by passing information between cognitive and emotional brain regions. This brings the kibosh to negative emotions and rumination.
But then there is area 25, which is in the subgenual area of the cingulated region. It’s right below and is connected to BA32.
We’ve already talked about how people with depression often have an overactive BA25, a region that is involved in emotional expression. But what is really interesting are the connections between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC, a cognitive region), BA25 and BA32.
In rhesus monkeys, the DLPFC connects to the deepest layers of BA32, which is where the strongest inhibitory neurons are located. BA32 binds to each layer of BA25, thus providing a powerful regulator of BA25 activity.
In the brains of non-depressed people, the DLPFC BA32 signals to balance BA25 activity and enable an emotional balance. In depression, however, the silence of the DLPFC leads to excessive BA25 activity and out of control emotional processing.
Deep brain and transcranial magnetic stimulation
Part of the cingulate gyrus (part of the cingulate cortex) made up of BA25 as well as parts of BA32 play an important role in depression. In this case it was the goal of deep brain stimulation.
Indeed, in 2005, renowned neurologist Helen S. Mayberg and co-workers described how successfully deep brain stimulation in a number of depressed people – individuals who, despite years of talk therapy, medication, and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) – were practically catatonic from depression BA25 treated. Think about how amazing this is.
But there is more. A recent study found that transcranial magnetic stimulation is clinically more effective in treating depression when specifically targeting BA46 (part of the frontal cortex) because the area has functional connectivity with BA25.
Can you see the role Brodmann areas play in depression interventions? Deep brain stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation have become effective treatments. And the best part is that science is young. I am sure there is a lot more to come.
Now you know why I believe relief – hope – goes way beyond the drug development pipeline. And that’s great news because, frankly, there’s not a lot to write home about.
In fact, I’ll go so far as to say I’m more looking forward to finding Brodmann areas for direct depression intervention than getting Esketamine (Spravato) approved.
Let’s wrap it up
Again, there are no coincidences – things do not work by chance. And the more we can learn why we are depressed and / or anxious, the more comfortable we can be with our circumstances.
However, I suspect that what the world of science learns and develops is at least as important. For more than 100 years, Brodmann areas have provided guidelines and insights for research and treatment. I believe they will continue to make a significant contribution.
I thought you should know
(Photo credit: ResearchGate, cingulated cortex: Wikipedia)
So much more about the mood and anxiety disorders found in hundreds of inspire4u articles.