Multilayer MEG functional connectivity as a potential marker for suicidal thoughts in major depressive disorder

Neuroimage Clin. 2020;28:102378. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2020.102378. Epub 2020 Aug 8.


Major depressive disorder (MDD) is highly heterogeneous in its clinical presentation. The present exploratory study used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to investigate electrophysiological intrinsic connectivity differences between healthy volunteers and unmedicated participants with treatment-resistant MDD. The study examined canonical frequency bands from delta through gamma. In addition to group comparisons, correlational studies were conducted to determine whether connectivity was related to five symptom factors: depressed mood, tension, negative cognition, suicidal thoughts, and amotivation. The MDD and healthy volunteer groups did not differ significantly at baseline when corrected across all frequencies and clusters, although evidence of generalized slowing in MDD was observed. Notably, however, electrophysiological connectivity was strongly related to suicidal thoughts, particularly as coupling of low frequency power fluctuations (delta and theta) with alpha and beta power. This analysis revealed hub areas underlying this symptom cluster, including left hippocampus, left anterior insula, and bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. No other symptom cluster demonstrated a relationship with neurophysiological connectivity, suggesting a specificity to these results as markers of suicidal ideation.

Trial registration: NCT00088699.

Keywords: Connectivity; Frequency; Magnetoencephalography; Major depressive disorder; Oscillation; Suicide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Cortex
  • Depressive Disorder, Major*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Suicidal Ideation

Associated data