The children underwent M.R.I. brain scans while viewing pictures of happy, sad, fearful or neutral faces. The researchers found that right amygdala and right thalamus activity was significantly greater in the depressed children than in the others, a finding that has also been observed in depressed adolescents and adults.
"We found something in the brain that is aligned with the idea of neurobiological models of depression — which parts of the brain are involved and how they interact," said the lead author, Michael S. Gaffrey, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis. "We can begin to use this information in conjunction with other information — symptoms, other biological markers — to identify and eventually prevent and treat this disorder."