Monday, January 21, 2008

Neuroscience of blogging?

It’s common knowledge that each side of the brain has some unique functions. For example, it is well-established that language functions are housed in the left hemisphere in most people. There is some evidence that the left side processes positive emotions. In a book about depression Andrew Solomon1 describes the idea that the pleasure of communicating is diminished by depression. He points out that depressed people avoid communication and that the opposite pattern occurs in mania, when a person can’t seem to stop talking.

The literature on brain symmetry and depression is not one I am particularly familiar with, but my initial glance suggests that people who respond to antidepressants have stronger left hemisphere processing in a perceptual task compared to non-responders.2,3 This observation is consistent with the idea that using language, stimulating the left hemisphere in the act of communicating, can counteract the forces of negative mood. Perhaps this is why people find journal or letter writing to be therapeutic. Could blogging be considered therapeutic, or a beneficial coping mechanism to reduce stress?

Now that the personal and social impact of new media is being explored, it will be interesting to learn more about how various forms of communication relate to mood. In the meantime, I will add blogging to knitting as a form of stress management. This might increase the frequency of posting!

Footnotes

1. Andrew Solomon. (2001). The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression. Scribner, New York. In the chapter on evolution, Solomon is focused on communication on pages 414-419.

2. Bruder, G.E., Stewart, J.W., McGrath, P.D., Deliyannides, D. and Quitkin, F.M. (2004). Dichotic listening tests of functional brain asymmetry predict response to fluoxetine in depressed women and men. Neuropsychopharmacology, 29 (9): 1752-61.

3. Bruder, G.E., Sedoruk, J.P., Stewart, J.W., McGrath, R.J., Quitkin, F.M., and Tenke, C.E. (2007). Electroencephalic alpha measures predict therapeutic response to a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant: pre- and post-treatment findings. Biological Psychiatry, Epub Nov 29, 2007.

1 comment:

Cherry Rolfe said...

Very interesting - I find that when I am in a depressed state I find it difficult to initate any form of expression through language, be it talking or writing, but that once I start I can continue. Its the same with knitting! I will procrastinate over the start of a project but will 'get on' thereafter.