Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Background Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a leading cause of disease burden worldwide. With the rapid growth of neuroimaging research on relatively small samples, meta-analytic techniques are becoming increasingly important. Here, we aim to clarify the support in fMRI literature for three leading neurobiological models of MDD: limbic-cortical, cortico-striatal and the default mode network. Methods Searches of PubMed and Web of Knowledge, and manual searches, were undertaken in early 2011. Data from 34 case-control comparisons (n=1165) and 6 treatment studies (n=105) were analysed separately with two meta-analytic methods for imaging data: Activation Likelihood Estimation and Gaussian-Process Regression. Results There was broad support for limbic-cortical and cortico-striatal models in the case-control data. Evidence for the role of the default mode network was weaker. Treatment-sensitive regions were primarily in lateral frontal areas. Limitations In any meta-analysis, the increase in the statistical power of the inference comes with the risk of aggregating heterogeneous study pools. While we believe that this wide range of paradigms allows identification of key regions of dysfunction in MDD (regardless of task), we attempted to minimise such risks by employing GPR, which models such heterogeneity. Conclusions The focus of treatment effects in frontal areas indicates that dysregulation here may represent a biomarker of treatment response. Since the dysregulation in many subcortical regions in the case-control comparisons appeared insensitive to treatment, we propose that these act as trait vulnerability markers, or perhaps treatment insensitivity. Our findings allow these models of MDD to be applied to fMRI literature with some confidence. © 2013 The Authors.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Affective Disorders

Publication Date





423 - 431