Altered negative BOLD responses in the default-mode network during emotion processing in depressed subjects

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2009 Mar;34(4):932-43. doi: 10.1038/npp.2008.81. Epub 2008 Jun 4.


Studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) show predominant negative blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) responses (NBRs) in regions of the default-mode network such as the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and the posterior cingulate cortex. Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) show emotional-cognitive disturbances, which have been associated with alterations within the default-mode network. However, it remains unclear whether these default-mode network alterations are related to abnormalities in NBRs. We therefore investigated neural activity in the default-mode network during different emotional tasks in patients with MDD in an event-related fMRI design. MDD patients showed significantly reduced NBRs in several regions of the default-mode network. Decreased NBRs in MDD patients correlated with depression severity and feelings of hopelessness. In sum, our findings demonstrate that default-mode network NBRs are reduced in MDD and modulate these patients' abnormally negative emotions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / physiopathology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment / physiology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Reaction Time
  • Visual Perception / physiology


  • Oxygen