Locked-in brain

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Chapter 10 endnote 32, from How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context is:

A depressed brain is effectively locked into misery. It’s like a brain in chronic pain, ignoring prediction error, but on a much larger scale that shuts you down. [...] When we look at the brains of people suffering from depression, we see activity and connectivity changes that are consistent with this hypothesis.

People who suffer from depression have a pattern of network connectivity that supports the locked-in brain hypothesis. For example, a person diagnosed with depression has a brain that is wired for persistent, intense distress to the point of misery and/or fatigue to the point of feeling dead, both of which are associated with continuous disruption to the body's budget. In addition, each sufferer has a brain that’s inwardly focused and less able to track the outside world (although there may be different patterns of connectivity that achieve this same "locked in" effect; i.e., there is degeneracy). For depression, the one commonality may be that you’re trapped in a past when metabolic needs were high: locked in your mental model of a negative world, insensitive to context and the world around you.

To read more about the locked-in brain hypothesis, see these references.[1][2][3]


Notes on the Notes

  1. Barrett, Lisa Feldman, and W. Kyle Simmons. 2015. “Interoceptive Predictions in the Brain.” Nature Reviews Neuroscience 16 (7): 419–429.
  2. Barrett Lisa Feldman, Karen S. Quigley, & Paul Hamilton. 2016 "An active inference theory of allostasis and interoception in depression." Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 371, 2016.0011. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2016.0011    
  3. Harel E, Tennyson R, Fava M, Bar M. 2016 Linking major depression and the neural substrates of associative processing. Cogn. Affect. Behav. Neurosci. (doi:10.3758/s13415-016-0449-9)