Scientists at MIT's McGovern Institute for Brain Research may have successfully pinpointed the part of the brain that causes pessimistic thought.
The researchers studied animal brains to look deeper into this phenomenon. They discovered that when they stimulate the caudate nucleus in the brain, with an electrical current, in test animals, the animals will give far more weight to the drawback of a situation than its benefit. The effect continued through the day after the stimulation.
The results of the study could help scientists better understand how some of the effects of depression and anxiety arise and guide the development of new treatments.
"We feel we were seeing a proxy for anxiety, or depression, or some mix of the two," said professor Ann Graybiel, a senior author of the study and a member of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
"These psychiatric problems are still so very difficult to treat for many individuals suffering from them," she said.
The results of the study were published on the peer-reviewed journal Neuron.