Resting-state EEG delta power is associated with psychological pain in adults with a history of depression

Biol Psychol. 2015 Feb:105:106-14. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2015.01.003. Epub 2015 Jan 17.


Psychological pain is a prominent symptom of clinical depression. We asked if frontal alpha asymmetry, frontal EEG power, and frontal fractal dimension asymmetry predicted psychological pain in adults with a history of depression. Resting-state frontal EEG (F3/F4) was recorded while participants (N=35) sat upright with their eyes closed. Frontal delta power predicted psychological pain while controlling for depressive symptoms, with participants who exhibited less power experiencing greater psychological pain. Frontal fractal dimension asymmetry, a nonlinear measure of complexity, also predicted psychological pain, such that greater left than right complexity was associated with greater psychological pain. Frontal alpha asymmetry did not contribute unique variance to any regression model of psychological pain. As resting-state delta power is associated with the brain's default mode network, results suggest that the default mode network was less activated during high psychological pain. Findings are consistent with a state of arousal associated with psychological pain.

Keywords: Default mode network; Depression; EEG; Mental pain; Nonlinear measures; Psychological pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Depression / physiopathology*
  • Depressive Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Young Adult