Depression, anxiety, and resting frontal EEG asymmetry: a meta-analytic review

J Abnorm Psychol. 2006 Nov;115(4):715-29. doi: 10.1037/0021-843X.115.4.715.


Emotion-related disturbances, such as depression and anxiety, have been linked to relative right-sided resting frontal electroencephalograph (EEG) asymmetry among adults and infants of afflicted mothers. However, a somewhat inconsistent pattern of findings has emerged. A meta-analysis was undertaken to (a) evaluate the magnitude of effects across EEG studies of resting frontal asymmetry and depression, anxiety, and comorbid depression and anxiety and (b) determine whether certain moderator variables could help reconcile inconsistent findings. Moderate effects of similar magnitude were obtained for the depression and anxiety studies, whereas a smaller effect emerged for comorbid studies. Three moderating variables predicted effect sizes: (a) Shorter EEG recording periods were associated with larger effects among adults, (b) different operationalizations of depression yielded effects of marginally different magnitudes, and (c) younger infant samples showed larger effects than older ones. The current data support a link between resting frontal EEG asymmetry and depression and anxiety and provide a partial account of inconsistent findings across studies.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity
  • Demography
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / physiopathology*
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Rest*