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Study: depression changes hate behavior

A recent psychiatric study suggests that depressed people may hate differently because their brain's "hate circuit" has disappeared. Scientists from Shanghai and the UK scanned the brains of 76 people with and without depression and they found that depression affects several areas of the brain, including the one that controls the feeling of hatred. This may explain why they tend to turn emotions like hatred and anger inward instead of venting them out. The discovery may lead to new methods to cure the depression. "We were shocked when we first saw these results," says the lead researcher Feng Jianfeng, a professor of Fudan University's Center for Computational Systems Biology. Their research finding was published in the latest issue of Molecular Psychiatry, a journal run by the Nature Publishing Group, university officials said yesterday. Scientists scanned the brain activity of 39 depressed people and 37 control subjects who were not depressed and found the brain's "hate circuit" is uncoupled in the depressed patients. They found that depression uncouples the "hatred circuit" involving the superior frontal gyrus, insula, and putamen. Other changes also occurred in circuits controlling risk and action responses, reward and emotion, attention and memory processing. Feng said they are not sure whether it is the disappearance of the "hate circuit" that causes depression or vice versa. But the study may lead to a new theory that people who are unable to vent negative emotions are more prone to depression. "To stay healthy, people should maintain an emotional balance between love and hate," he said. Scientists involved in the study came from Fudan University, Shanghai No. 2 Xiangya Hospital and from University of Warwick and the Babraham Institute in the UK.

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