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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2011 Oct;35(9):1971-81. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2010.12.009. Epub 2010 Dec 22.

Cross-species affective functions of the medial forebrain bundle-implications for the treatment of affective pain and depression in humans.

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Stereotaxy and MR-based OR-techniques/Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital Bonn, Germany.


Major depression (MD) might be conceptualized as pathological under-arousal of positive affective systems as parts of a network of brain regions assessing, reconciling and storing emotional stimuli versus an over-arousal of parts of the same network promoting separation-distress/GRIEF. In this context depression can be explained as an emotional pain state that is the result of a disregulation of several sub-systems that under physiological conditions are concerned with bodily or emotional homeostasis of the human organism in a social context. Physiologically, homeostasis is maintained by influences of the SEEKING system represented - amongst others - by the medial forebrain bundle (MFB). Neuroimaging studies show that the MFB has a proven access to the GRIEF/Sadness system. A functional decoupling of these systems with a dysfunctional GRIEF pathway might result in MD. Therewith GRIEF and SEEKING/PLEASURE systems play important roles as opponents in maintenance of emotional homeostasis. Chronic electrical modulation of the reward SEEKING pathways with deep brain stimulation might show anti-depressive effects in humans suffering from MD by re-initiating an emotional equilibrium (of higher or lower activity) between these opposing systems.

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