The Cognitive Ecology of Mood Project

Le Penseur 2This project focuses on understanding how the cognitive effects of depressed mood relate to the problems that triggered the mood state. Depressed affect has been found to promote analytical reasoning, in which a complex problem is broken into smaller, more manageable components in order to study these components in turn. This type of problem solving that requires focused attention and must be uninterrupted to be successful. We have therefore hypothesized that depression could be an evolved response to problems that require analysis so that they can be solved, and that the evolved function of depression is to coordinate various body systems to promote uninterrupted analysis of those problems. We are currently investigating whether:

  • Stressors are more depressogenic if they require analysis to be solved;
  • The neurological mechanisms underlying depression help promote uninterrupted analysis of problems; and,
  • The symptoms of depression work together to help solve the stressors that triggered the episode.

These investigations form the basis of the “Analytical Rumination Hypothesis”, a hypothesis that pervades the majority of the depression research in the Evo-Health Lab.