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Family study of emotional and cognitive brain function in first degree relatives of depressed probands, Stanford University and Sydney Medical School (5/15/2014)

Data acquisition for 101 relatives and 101 non-relative matched controls is complete. Opportunities exist for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to analyze the data in new ways, for publication.
This study was funded by the Australian Research Council from 2007-13. The aims of the study were as follows:
The aim of this project is to understand vulnerability for depression in individuals. By understanding how depression develops, we can develop prevention and early intervention strategies.

While factors in the environment, such as a difficult family environment, or stressful life events, are major contributors to the likelihood of a person developing MDD, part of the risk for depression depends on an individual’s biological predisposition. Because MDD is a heritable disorder, the relatives of people with depression can give provide us with information about the biological predisposition for vulnerability and resilience.

We have investigated a range of contributing factors including genetics, brain structure and function (using neuroimaging and EEG/ERPs), behavior, personality and experienced symptoms, as well as the impact of life events. We will follow participants up one year after the initial visit to see how the initial measures relate to wellbeing and symptom development overtime. Integration across these measures will contribute to a deeper understanding of the development of depression.


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