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The importance of the hippocampus and amygdala for disrupted emotional memory formation in depression is well-recognized, but it remains unclear whether functional abnormalities are state-dependent and whether they are affected by the persistence of depressive symptoms.
Thirty-nine patients with major depressive disorder and 28 healthy controls were included from the longitudinal functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) sub-study of the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety. Participants performed an emotional word-encoding and -recognition task during fMRI at baseline and 2-year follow-up measurement. At baseline, all patients were in a depressed state. We investigated state-dependency by relating changes in brain activation over time to changes in symptom severity. Furthermore, the effect of time spent with depressive symptoms in the 2-year interval was investigated.
Symptom change was linearly associated with higher activation over time of the left anterior hippocampus extending to the amygdala during positive and negative word-encoding. Especially during positive word encoding, this effect was driven by symptomatic improvement. There was no effect of time spent with depression in the 2-year interval on change in brain activation. Results were independent of medication- and psychotherapy-use.
Using a longitudinal within-subjects design, we showed that hippocampal–amygdalar activation during emotional memory formation is related to depressive symptom severity but not persistence (i.e. time spent with depression or ‘load’), suggesting functional activation patterns in depression are not subject to functional ‘scarring’ although this hypothesis awaits future replication.
Childhood maltreatment (CM) plays an important role in the development of major depressive disorder (MDD). The aim of this study was to examine whether CM severity and type are associated with MDD-related brain alterations, and how they interact with sex and age.
Within the ENIGMA-MDD network, severity and subtypes of CM using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire were assessed and structural magnetic resonance imaging data from patients with MDD and healthy controls were analyzed in a mega-analysis comprising a total of 3872 participants aged between 13 and 89 years. Cortical thickness and surface area were extracted at each site using FreeSurfer.
CM severity was associated with reduced cortical thickness in the banks of the superior temporal sulcus and supramarginal gyrus as well as with reduced surface area of the middle temporal lobe. Participants reporting both childhood neglect and abuse had a lower cortical thickness in the inferior parietal lobe, middle temporal lobe, and precuneus compared to participants not exposed to CM. In males only, regardless of diagnosis, CM severity was associated with higher cortical thickness of the rostral anterior cingulate cortex. Finally, a significant interaction between CM and age in predicting thickness was seen across several prefrontal, temporal, and temporo-parietal regions.
Severity and type of CM may impact cortical thickness and surface area. Importantly, CM may influence age-dependent brain maturation, particularly in regions related to the default mode network, perception, and theory of mind.
Disturbances in emotion regulation (ER) are characteristic of both patients with bipolar disorder (BD) and schizophrenia (SZ). We investigated the temporal dynamics of brain activation during cognitive ER in BD and SZ to understand the contribution of temporal characteristics of disturbed ER to their unique and shared symptomatology.
Forty-six participants performed an ER-task (BD, n = 15; SZ, n = 16; controls, n = 15) during functional magnetic resonance imaging, in which they were instructed to use cognitive reappraisal techniques to regulate their emotional responses. Finite impulse response modeling was applied to estimate the temporal dynamics of brain responses during cognitive reappraisal (v. passive attending) of negative pictures. Group, time, and group × time effects were tested using multivariate modeling.
We observed a group × time interaction during ER in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC), supplementary motor area (SMA) and inferior occipital gyrus. Patients with SZ demonstrated initial hyper-activation of the VLPFC and SMA activation that was not sustained in later regulatory phases. Response profiles in the inferior occipital gyrus in SZ showed abnormal activation in the later phases of regulation. BD-patients showed general blunted responsivity in these regions.
These results suggest that ER-disturbances in SZ are characterized by an inefficient initialization and failure to sustain regulatory control, whereas in BD, a failure to recruit regulatory resources may represent initial deficits in formulating adequate representations of the regulatory needs. This may help to further understand how ER-disturbances give rise to symptomatology of BD and SZ.
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