Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Depression Health Center

Font Size

Depression Dulls Brain's Pleasure Sites

Brain Scans Show Difference Between Depressed, Healthy People's Response to Music
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Aug. 19, 2009 -- Depression is well known for dulling people's sense of pleasure, and now, researchers have used high-tech brain scans to watch that happen inside the depressed brain.

Their findings -- which appear in the advance online edition of NeuroReport -- show that when depressed people listened to music they liked, the brain's reward-processing areas weren't as active as when people who weren't depressed listened to their favorite music.

The study included 15 healthy young adults and 16 young adults who had been diagnosed with major depression. Only one of the depressed participants was taking an antidepressant.

First, all participants chose three or four pieces of instrumental music that they liked a lot, as well as a couple of pieces that they didn't particularly like or dislike.

Next, participants heard a sample of the musical pieces they selected while getting their brains scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Healthy participants showed a more robust response, in terms of activity in reward-related brain regions, than depressed participants when they heard the music they liked.

"The study results show that for recently depressed individuals, this loss of enjoyment is linked to very specific parts of the brain which are involved with experiencing pleasure," researcher Elizabeth Osuch, MD, says in a news release.

"If we can target these areas of the brain through treatment, we have the potential to treat depression earlier, right at the source," Osuch says.

Of course, depression treatment is already available and can make a big difference in easing depression symptoms.

Today on WebMD

Differences between feeling depressed and feeling blue.
jk rowling
Famous people who've struggled with persistent sadness.
depressed man sitting on hallway floor
Learn the truth about this serious illness.
Sad woman looking out of the window
Tips to stay the treatment course.
unhappy teen boy
Health Check
jk rowling
Pills with smiley faces
Teen girl huddled outside house
Depressed man sitting in hospital hallway
antidepressants slideshow
pill bottle
Winding path