At the present time, how we identify depression is based on what the individual is able to describe and show about how they are and what their family and friends describe about them. We do not have any biological measures that can tell us if someone has depression or another form of mental health disorder.
Cynthia Fu's research focuses on the brain regions affected by depression, how they may change with treatment with psychotherapy antidepressant medication or with talking therapy or pharmacotherapy, and whether we can predict clinical response outcome before the start of treatment.
We know that depression affects many regions in the brain involved in emotion processing, memory, cognition as well as motor functioning. We know that some regions are more commonly affected in depression and that some regions show similar impairments in other disorders.
From this work, Cynthia Fu has been looking at whether we can develop biological markers or 'biomarkers' to help us to say what kind of depression someone is experiencing and to predict clinical outcome. Her research has direct translational potential and had led to primary publications in the development of biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis based on brain imaging.
Recent relevant publications:
- Fu, C.H.Y., Fan, Y. & Davatzikos C. (2019). Addressing heterogeneity (and homogeneity) in treatment mechanisms in depression and the potential to develop diagnostic and predictive biomarkers. Neuroimage Clinical, 24, 101997.
- Sankar, A., Melin, A., Lorenzetti, V., Horton, P., Costafreda, S.G., Fu, C.H.Y. (2018) A systematic review and meta-analysis of the neural correlates of psychological therapies in major depression. Psychiatry Research Neuroimaging. 279, 31-39.
- Fu, C.H.Y, Costafreda, S.G., Sankar, A., Adams, T.M., Rasenick, M.M., Liu, P., Donati, R., Maglanoc, L.A., Horton, P. & Marangell, L.B. (2015). Prospective multimodal functional and structural neuroimaging investigation of major depressive disorder following treatment with duloxetine. BMC Psychiatry, 15, 82.
- Sankar, A., Scott, J., Paszkiewicz, A., Giampietro, V.P., Steiner, H., Fu, C.H.Y. (2015) Neural effects of cognitive-behavioural therapy on dysfunctional attitudes in depression. Psychological Medicine 45(7), 1425-33.