A training method which aids people to control activity in a certain area of the brain has been hailed by researchers as a way of potentially being able to treat depression.
Researchers at Cardiff University showed eight people suffering from depression just how their brains reacted when shown positive imagery using MRI scanners.
Another eight people were not shown these images and instead were simply asked to think positively, according to the study which was published in the PLoS One journal.
After four sessions of the therapy, the participants who had been shown these images had seen significant improvements in their depression while those who hadn’t been shown them had seen no significant improvement in their depression.
The technique is known as neurofeedback and researchers said that said they believed the scans allowed participants to work out which positive emotional imagery was most effective.
This technique has already had some success in helping those with Parkinson’s disease.
Professor David Linden, who led the study, said the treatment could form part of a package to help people with depression.
He said: “One of the interesting aspects of this technique is that it gives patients the experience of controlling aspects of their own brain activity.
“Many of them were very interested in this new way of engaging with their brains.”
Despite the promise of the tests, both Prof Linden and the mental health charity Mind have said there is still some way to go before we can get truly carried away with the findings.
Chris Ames, from Mind, said: “While these initial results are interesting, the research is clearly at an early stage.
“Further research should give a better idea of how beneficial this technique could be as a treatment for depression.”
Around one fifth of people will develop depression at some point while a third of those will fail to respond to standard treatments.