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BACKGROUND: The frontal lobe has been crucially involved in the neurobiology of major depression, but inconsistencies among studies exist, in part due to a failure of considering modulatory variables such as symptom severity, comorbidity with anxiety, and distinct subtypes, as codeterminants for patterns of brain activation in depression. METHODS: Resting electroencephalogram was recorded in 38 unmedicated subjects with major depressive disorder and 18 normal comparison subjects, and analyzed with a tomographic source localization method that computes the cortical three-dimensional distribution of current density for standard electroencephalogram frequency bands. Symptom severity and anxiety were measured via self-report and melancholic features via clinical interview. RESULTS: Depressed subjects showed more excitatory (beta3, 21.5-30.0 Hz) activity in the right superior and inferior frontal lobe (Brodmann's area 9/10/11) than comparison subjects. In melancholic subjects, this effect was particularly pronounced for severe depression, and right frontal activity correlated positively with anxiety. Depressed subjects showed posterior cingulate and precuneus hypoactivity. CONCLUSIONS: While confirming prior results implicating right frontal and posterior cingulate regions, this study highlights the importance of depression severity, anxiety, and melancholic features in patterns of brain activity accompanying depression.
BACKGROUND: Relationships between aberrant social functioning and depression have been explored via behavioral, clinical, and survey methodologies, highlighting their importance in the etiology of depression. The neural underpinnings of these relationships, however, have not been explored. METHODS: Nine depressed participants and 14 never-depressed control subjects viewed emotional and neutral pictures at two functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning sessions approximately 22 weeks apart. In the interim, depressed patients received the antidepressant Venlafaxine. Positively rated images were parsed into three separate comparisons: social interaction, human faces, and sexual images; across scanning session, activation to these images was compared with other positively rated images. RESULTS: For each of the three social stimulus types (social interaction, faces, sexual images), a distinguishable circuitry was activated equally in non-depressed control subjects and post-treatment depressed subjects but showed a hypo-response in the depressed group pre-treatment. These structures include regions of prefrontal, temporal, and parietal cortices, insula, basal ganglia, and the hippocampus. CONCLUSIONS: The neural hypo-response to positively valenced social stimuli that is observed in depression remits as response to antidepressant medication occurs, suggesting a state-dependent deficiency in response to positive social incentives. These findings underscore the importance of addressing social dysfunction in research and treatment of depression.
Over the past several years meditation practice has gained increasing attention as a non-pharmacological intervention to provide health related benefits, from promoting general wellness to alleviating the symptoms of a variety of medical conditions. However, the effects of meditation training on brain activity still need to be fully characterized. Sleep provides a unique approach to explore the meditation-related plastic changes in brain function. In this study we performed sleep high-density electroencephalographic (hdEEG) recordings in long-term meditators (LTM) of Buddhist meditation practices (approximately 8700 mean hours of life practice) and meditation naive individuals. We found that LTM had increased parietal-occipital EEG gamma power during NREM sleep. This increase was specific for the gamma range (25–40 Hz), was not related to the level of spontaneous arousal during NREM and was positively correlated with the length of lifetime daily meditation practice. Altogether, these findings indicate that meditation practice produces measurable changes in spontaneous brain activity, and suggest that EEG gamma activity during sleep represents a sensitive measure of the long-lasting, plastic effects of meditative training on brain function.
STUDY OBJECTIVES: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is associated with significant alterations in neuronal integrity resulting from either hypoxemia and/or sleep loss. A large body of imaging research supports reductions in gray matter volume, alterations in white matter integrity and resting state activity, and functional abnormalities in response to cognitive challenge in various brain regions in patients with OSA. In this study, we used high-density electroencephalography (hdEEG), a functional imaging tool that could potentially be used during routine clinical care, to examine the regional distribution of neural activity in a non-clinical sample of untreated men and women with moderate/severe OSA. DESIGN: Sleep was recorded with 256-channel EEG in relatively healthy subjects with apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) > 10, as well as age-, sex-, and body mass index-matched controls selected from a research population initially recruited for a study on sleep and meditation. SETTING: Sleep laboratory. PATIENTS OR PARTICIPANTS: Nine subjects with AHI > 10 and nine matched controls. INTERVENTIONS: N/A. MEASUREMENTS AND RESULTS: Topographic analysis of hdEEG data revealed a broadband reduction in EEG power in a circumscribed region overlying the parietal cortex in OSA subjects. This parietal reduction in neural activity was present, to some extent, across all frequency bands in all stages and episodes of nonrapid eye movement sleep. CONCLUSION: This investigation suggests that regional deficits in electroencephalography (EEG) power generation may be a useful clinical marker for neural disruption in obstructive sleep apnea, and that high-density EEG may have the sensitivity to detect pathological cortical changes early in the disease process.