Neural correlates of rumination in adolescents with remitted major depressive disorder and healthy controls

Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2017 Apr;17(2):394-405. doi: 10.3758/s13415-016-0486-4.


The aim of the present study was to use fMRI to examine the neural correlates of engaging in rumination among a sample of remitted depressed adolescents, a population at high risk for future depressive relapse. A rumination induction task was used to assess differences in the patterns of neural activation during rumination versus a distraction condition among 26 adolescents in remission from major depressive disorder (rMDD) and in 15 healthy control adolescents. Self-report depression and rumination, as well as clinician-rated depression, were also assessed among all participants. All of the participants recruited regions in the default mode network (DMN), including the posterior cingulate cortex, medial prefrontal cortex, inferior parietal lobe, and medial temporal gyrus, during rumination. Increased activation in these regions during rumination was correlated with increased self-report rumination and symptoms of depression across all participants. Adolescents with rMDD also exhibited greater activation in regions involved in visual, somatosensory, and emotion processing than did healthy peers. The present findings suggest that during ruminative thought, adolescents with rMDD are characterized by increased recruitment of regions within the DMN and in areas involved in visual, somatosensory, and emotion processing.

Keywords: Adolescence; Default mode network; Depression; Neuroimaging; Rumination.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnostic imaging
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / physiopathology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / diagnostic imaging
  • Neural Pathways / physiopathology
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Rest
  • Self Report
  • Thinking / physiology*