The low-grade existential despair inflicted by your day-to-day cubicle farm existence may actually be making you dumber: A team of Yale scientists have discovered that stress and depression can actually cause your brain to atrophy.
The research team analyzed tissue of depressed and non-depressed patients donated from a brain bank and looked for different patterns of gene activation. The brains of patients who had been depressed exhibited lower levels of expression in genes that are required for the function and structure of brain synapses. Lead author and postdoctoral researcher H.J. Kang discovered that at least five of these genes could be regulated by a single transcription factor called GATA1. When the transcription factor was activated, rodents exhibited depressive-like symptoms, suggesting GATA1 plays a role not only in the loss of connections between neurons but also in symptoms of depression.
Maybe the makers of Joe vs. The Volcano were on to something:
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