Investigating Brain Signatures of Melancholic Depression

We are conducting a research study investigating how the brain and body work during depression. We hope to use the information we gather in this project to develop new treatments for people who do not respond or cannot tolerate existing therapies for depression.


Depression is a common mental illness that affects up to one in ten Australians. People who are depressed feel sad almost all the time and lose interest in things they usually enjoy. They may also have problems with concentration and energy, have gloomy thoughts about themselves, the world and the future, feel excessively guilty or feel that life is no longer worth living.

A significant number of people with depression still have significant and problematic symptoms despite treatment. For these people, new treatments are desperately needed. At QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, we are looking for new treatments for those people with the most severe depressive illnesses, who are amongst the most disabled. We are currently developing technologies that may help these people, which include brain stimulation therapies such as transcranial magnetic stimulation and deep brain stimulation. However, before we can apply these effectively, we first need to know more about how the brain and body respond in depression.

The overall goal of this research is to find out if there is a type of depression that shows a particular pattern of brain and behavioural changes. We think one type of depression (we use the term ‘melancholic’ depression) may be most responsive to some of the treatments we are developing. People with melancholic depression have very ‘physical’ signs including slowness of movement and thought; and their depression often arises ‘out of the blue’ rather than in response to any one specific stressful event. However, before conducting clinical trials testing the efficacy of our therapies we need to find out more about the markers of depression for people with melancholic and non-melancholic depression. Knowledge from this study is likely to help some of the most unwell people with depression in the near future.


You may find that your query is listed on our Frequently Asked Questions section below.

Contact details:

T: 07 3845 3008


A: QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute,

Locked Bag 2000, Royal Brisbane Hospital,

Herston, QLD, 4029, AUSTRALIA

For more information and to participate now call Dr Philip Mosley on 07 3845 3008

Dr Philip Mosley


  • Men and women aged between 18 and 55.
  • A primary diagnosis of depression.
  • No other major mental illness such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or alcohol dependence.
  • No other major neurological illness such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease.

A half-day (4-hour) visit to QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, which will include:

  • Completing an interview with a study investigator.
  • Completing a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) brain scan.
  • Playing a short computer game.
  • Watching a short movie.

We will refund your travel costs / parking (up to a maximum of $50).

Participation is entirely voluntary.

You can withdraw consent at any time. You do not have to give a reason for withdrawal and your withdrawal will not affect your relationship with the research team, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute or your usual doctor.

Your personal data will be anonymised and stored on a secure computer server. When we publish the results, it will be in a grouped and anonymous form with no reference to your identity.


This research project is funded through the generous support of the Wesley Medical Research Institute