Antidepressant memory sparks brain response

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) found that a person’s brain reacted to a placebo the same way it did to an antidepressant, provided that they had taken the antidepressant before. 

The experiment looked at the change in brain function in 89 people with depression over an eight-week period. Some of those in the trial were given an antidepressant, while others were given placebo. 

Monitoring the results with EEG, researchers found participants taking antidepressants recorded a slight decrease in prefrontal brain activity, regardless of whether they had taken an antidepressant before.

Those on placebo who had never taken a prior antidepressant had large increases in prefrontal brain activity.

However, patients assigned to placebo who had taken antidepressants in the past also recorded a slight decrease in prefrontal brain activity indistinguishable from patients in the antidepressant group.