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BACKGROUND: Previous imaging studies have revealed that acute major depression is characterized by altered neural responses to negative emotional stimuli. Typically, responses in limbic regions such as the amygdala are increased while activity in cortical regulatory regions such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) is diminished. Whether these changes persist in unmedicated recovered patients is unclear. METHOD: We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine neural responses to emotional faces in a facial expression-matching task in 16 unmedicated recovered depressed patients and 21 healthy controls. RESULTS: Compared with controls, recovered depressed patients had increased responses bilaterally to fearful faces in the DLPFC and right caudate. Responses in the amygdala did not distinguish the groups. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that clinical recovery from depression is associated with increased activity in the DLPFC to negative emotional stimuli. We suggest that this increase may reflect a compensatory cortical control mechanism with the effect of limiting emotional dysregulation in limbic regions such as the amygdala.

Original publication

DOI

10.1017/S0033291709990596

Type

Journal article

Journal

Psychol Med

Publication Date

03/2010

Volume

40

Pages

425 - 432

Keywords

Adolescent, Adult, Amygdala, Analysis of Variance, Brain, Brain Mapping, Depressive Disorder, Major, Emotions, Facial Expression, Fear, Female, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Limbic System, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Middle Aged, Prefrontal Cortex, Reaction Time, Task Performance and Analysis, Young Adult