The proposed Silvio O. Conte Center for Neuroscience of Depression will focus on
understanding the neurobiological mechanism of depression. A total of 5 projects are
proposed. The center is focused on a single hypothesis. The first project examines
localization of lesions, structural changes in critical regions subserving the circuit,
alterations in the white matter tracts relevant to the circuit and changes in glutamate. The
second project uses post mortem cell counting and cellular localization in serotonin
receptors and assessment of the type of cell loss in the orbitofrontal cortex. The third
project uses cognitive paradigms and functional MRI to probe the circuit and the role of
brain lesions and serotonin on the functioning of this circuit. The fourth project uses
transgenic and knockout mice to examine to role of norepinephrine and serotonin as it
relates to the circuit. The final project is designed to assess in these transgenic mice
using multielectrode array of single neuron recordings of the firing pattern of the circuit
neurons in various states and tasks and the role of monoamines in modulating this circuit.
Three shared resources, administrative, research and assessment and data
management/statistics are proposed to facilitate the conduct of these projects and to ensure
integration at the conceptual, analytical and resource availability level, and flow to the
various projects. Findings from the center should greatly enhance our understanding of the
biology of depressive disorders and help improve the treatment of these disorders. In
addition, the technological innovations developed in the context of this project are likely
to be of major importance and relevant to other studies of brain function.
For depressed group:
1. Age > 60 years
2. Major depression, single episode or recurrent
3. Ability to read and write English
4. MMSE >25
5. Willingness to participate in the follow-up study for at least two years.
For non-depressed group:
1. Age > 60 years
2. Ability to read and write English
3. MMSE >25
4. Willingness to participate in the follow-up study for at least two years
1. Lifetime alcohol or drug dependence
2. Conditions associated with MRI abnormalities such hydrocephalus, benign and cancerous
brain tumors, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's chorea, dementia,
demyelinating diseases, etc.
3. Endocrine disorder (other than diabetes mellitus)
4. Any physical or intellectual disability that may affect completion of self rating
5. Established clinical diagnosis of dementia
6. Other primary psychiatric disorders, including panic disorder, social phobia, OCD,
non-affective psychosis (including schizo-affective disorder), schizophrenia, bipolar
7. Any metal or pacemaker in the body which precludes MRI.