The altered cortical connectivity during spatial search for facial expressions in major depressive disorder

Tang Y, Li Y, Wang N, Li H, Li H, Wang J

Prog. Neuropsychopharmacol. Biol. Psychiatry 2011 Dec;35(8):1891-900

PMID: 21888943


To characterize the altered directed connectivity within a distributed cortical network, as is associated with the impaired attention modulation involved in the manifestation of mood disorder in depression, short-window partial directed coherence (PDC) combining with the event-related brain potentials (ERPs) was applied in this study. ERPs were recorded from 13 normal subjects and 12 depressed patients during visual search for facial expressions. The evoked N2 component of ERPs by responding to all neutral faces (F(1,22)=5.51, P<0.05) and the positive face was reduced in the depressed patients as compared to the normal subjects (F(1,22)=5.71, P<0.05), while the evoked N2 component by detecting the negative face showed no significant between-group effect (F(1,22)=2.10, P=0.16). The reduced N2 amplitude reflected deficits in effortful attentional modulation in depression. Obtained PDC values within the N2 time-window (150-300 ms post stimulus) showed weaker intra-frontal and intra-central directed interactions and enhanced occipital information output when responding to all neutral faces in depression relative to those in the normal group. Few decreased intra-frontal directed interactions were observed when detecting the emotional face in depression. The altered cortical directed connectivity contributed to the impairment occurring in the effortful attention modulation in depression. Our findings supported that the impaired attention modulation processing in depression was associated with the altered cortical connectivity.