Wednesday 9 December 2015

Theory of mind and major depressive disorder

Today I'm briefly serving up the paper by Emre Bora & Michael Berk [1] for your daily reading and the results of their meta-analysis stating that: "Theory of mind abilities are impaired during depression."

Based on data derived from 18 studies covering over 600 participants diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) and over 500 asymptomatic controls, the Bora/Berk paper suggests that there may be much more to see when it comes to the psychological processes of attributing mental states and the myriad of presentations covered under the banner of depression.

Whilst I am interested in the label of depression on this blog (see here and see here for example) my reasoning for discussing this specific paper is slightly broader; namely in the context of how theory of mind (ToM) has waxed and waned specifically with autism in mind (see here). If one considers that depression shows more than a passing connection to quite a lot of autism (see here) or indeed, some of the somatic comorbidity talked about with autism in mind (see here), one might see a way whereby some of the historical scientific discussions about ToM and autism may have neglected the role of some quite important comorbidity. I say all this in the context that the label of autism rarely appears in some sort of diagnostic vacuum (see here) as per discussions on [its] ESSENCE (see here).

One other area of interest that I'd like to bring to your attention that might 'unite' some of the findings regarding ToM and autism and depression, is the idea that biological processes may play an important role in any relationship. Take for example the interesting data coming out in the peer-reviewed domain suggesting that inflammation or inflammatory process may affect important psychological processes such as social cognition as per the findings from Moieni and colleagues [2] (see here for my take). Inflammation and [some] autism y'say? Inflammation and [some] depression? Well, let's just to say that I don't think anyone is in a position to rule anything out at the moment (see here and see here respectively).

Music: Grace - You Don't Own Me.


[1] Bora E. & Berk M. Theory of mind in Major Depressive Disorder: A meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2015. Nov 23.

[2] Moieni M. et al. Inflammation impairs social cognitive processing: A randomized controlled trial of endotoxin. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 2015. May 10.

---------- Bora, E., & Berk, M. (2015). Theory of mind in Major Depressive Disorder: A meta-analysis Journal of Affective Disorders DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2015.11.023

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