Imagine that? Brain may have blocked depression from 2016 election

For those who wanted the 2016 election to turn out differently, UCLA neuroscientists may have MRI evidence of the brain's defense mechanisms in retracting feelings of depression, according to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times.   

Sarah Tashjian, a graduate student in psychology at UCLA who led the study along with associate professor of psychology Adriana Galvan, PhD, saw the election as an opportunity to analyze how the brain responds to political upset and distress.  

The researchers recruited 60 participants from Los Angeles, 40 of whom said they responded negatively to the election and the remaining 20 who claimed to be unaffected by it. All participants were given a survey with questions about social support and personal discrimination experiences and then underwent MRI exams. Researchers specifically focused on analyzing regions of the brain responsible for stimulating feelings after receiving a reward or social support. 

"A lot of research on stress in the brain looks at events that occur on an individual level; we wanted to see if we could extrapolate that to a larger event like a shift in the political climate," Tashjian said. "Even if you are feeling distressed or worried about the future, all hope is not lost. Our bodies have these built-in biological buffers and social buffers that can help us deal with stressful times." 

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