Gene, brains, and environment-genetic neuroimaging of depression

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2013 Feb;23(1):133-42. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2012.08.004. Epub 2012 Sep 17.


Depression, conceptualized as major depressive disorder (MDD), is a complex psychiatric disorder with multiple behavioral changes and alterations in various brain regions. Biochemically, serotonin and others substances like GABA, glutamate, norepinephrin, adrenaline/noradrenaline play an essential role in the pathogenesis of MDD. The paper reviews recent human neuroimaging findings on how the genes underlying these biochemical substances modulate neural activity, behavior, and ultimately clinical symptoms. Current data provide solid evidence that genes related to serotonin impact emotion-related neural activity in the amygdala and the anterior cingulate cortex. By contrast, evidence is not as strong for genes related to biochemical substances other than serotonin and other regions of the brain. The review concludes with discussing future genetic, neural, and clinical challenges that point out the central role of gene × environment and brain × environment interactions as genetic and neural predispositions of depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / genetics*
  • Gene-Environment Interaction*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Serotonin / genetics


  • Serotonin