Increased activity in a brain region may protect from depressive symptoms associated with poor sleep, according to the recent research published in The Journal of Neuroscience.
The findings revealed that students with poor quality sleep were less likely to have symptoms of depression if they also had higher activity in a reward-sensitive region of the brain.
“This helps us begin to understand why some people are more likely to experience depression when they have problems with sleep,” said Ahmad Hariri, Professor at the Duke University in North Carolina, US.
“This finding may one day help us identify individuals for whom sleep hygiene may be more effective or more important,” Hariri added.
The researchers examined how the negative effect of poor sleep can also be balanced by the ventral striatum so that high reward-related activation can alter the effects of poor sleep on depressive symptoms.
Ventral striatum helps regulate behaviour in response to an external feedback as well as reinforce behaviours that are rewarded while reducing behaviours that are not.
They found that individuals with higher reward-related ventral striatum activity were significantly less likely to report symptoms of depression when experiencing poor sleep.
Under the study, the researchers examined a region deep within the brain known as the ventral striatum in 1,129 students.
The research revealed that those who were less resistant to the effects of poor sleep showed notably higher brain activity in response to positive feedback.“Poor sleep is not good, but you may have other experiences during your life that are positive. And the more responsive you are to those positive experiences, the less vulnerable you may be to the depressive effects of poor sleep,” Hariri said