If you attended college at any point in the last decade, I’m willing to bet you knew SOMEONE who spent way too much time on thespark.com (now sparklife.com). From the love test to the personality test and everone’s favorite, the death test (their most popular one!!!), we all know the accuracy with which a short list of multiple choice questions can determine elements of our inner being we were never before aware of. Come on, people! The internet can do these things!
Fruitless ways of killing time online aside, it appears that researchers at the University of Manchester have developed their own internet test to determine our genetic disposition to depression. Hoping to recruit more than 1,000 UK volunteers for further tests as part of a five-year, EU-funded project called NewMood, the group invites potential volunteers (and anyone else interested) to visit their web site. There you can try out shorter versions of some of the tasks in the study, including a test to indentify emotions on people’s faces and a gambling test.
According to professor Bill Deakin, involved with the study, our brains are wired to see anxiety – it ensures we are safe. Depressed people are apparently more likely to see sadness or fear in a neutral face. Gambling tests are a way to stimulate people to work for a reward – depressed people are apparently less affected by reward stimuli and tend to give up more easily.
All of this leads to a more complete understanding of the forces involved in depression, which is a complex disorder involving genetic and personality factors, as well as life history.
[Kudos to Science Blog]