Neural correlates of affective processing in response to sad and angry facial stimuli in patients with major depressive disorder

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2008 Apr 1;32(3):778-85. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2007.12.009. Epub 2007 Dec 23.


Mood abnormalities related to major depressive disorder (MDD) seem to result from disturbances in pathways connecting the fronto-limbic and subcortical, both regions known to be involved in the processing of emotional information. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we measured neural responses to viewing images of sad, angry and neutral faces in 21 patients with MDD and 15 healthy controls. When shown pictures of sad faces, patients with MDD relative controls showed decreased activations bilaterally in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, inferior orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), medial OFC, caudate, and hippocampus. We also found significant group differences under the angry face condition, bilaterally, in the inferior OFC and medial OFC areas. Our findings indicate that decreased activations in the fronto-limbic and subcortical regions in response to affectively negative stimuli may be associated with pathophysiology of MDD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Anger / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / physiopathology*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Photic Stimulation / methods


  • Oxygen