Regional cortical thinning in patients with major depressive disorder: a surface-based morphometry study

Psychiatry Res. 2012 Jun 30;202(3):206-13. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2011.07.011. Epub 2012 Apr 21.


This study uses surfaced-based morphometry to investigate cortical thinning and its functional correlates in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). Subjects with MDD (N=36) and healthy control subjects (N=36) were enrolled in the study. Each subject received T1 structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), clinical evaluations, and neuropsychological examinations of executive functions with the Color Trail Test (CTT) and the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST). This study used an automated surface-based method (FreeSurfer) to measure cortical thickness and to generate the thickness maps for each subject. Statistical comparisons were performed using a general linear model. Compared with healthy controls, subjects with MDD showed the largest area of cortical thinning in the prefrontal cortex. This study also noted smaller areas of cortical thinning in the bilateral inferior parietal cortex, left middle temporal gyrus, left entorhinal cortex, left lingual cortex, and right postcentral gyrus. Regression analysis demonstrated cortical thinning in several frontoparietal regions, predicting worse executive performance measured by CTT 2, though the patterns of cortical thickness/executive performance correlation differed in healthy controls and MDD subjects. In conclusion, the results provide further evidence for the significant role of a prefrontal structural deficit and an aberrant structural/functional relationship in patients with MDD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / complications
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / pathology*
  • Electronic Data Processing
  • Executive Function
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Regression Analysis
  • Young Adult