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Br J Psychiatry. 2008 May;192(5):356-61. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.107.043398.

Affective modulation of anterior cingulate cortex in young people at increased familial risk of depression.

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  • 1University Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, UK.



We previously found that children of parents with depression showed impaired performance on a task of emotional categorisation.


To test the hypothesis that children of parents with depression would show abnormal neural responses in the anterior cingulate cortex, a brain region involved in the integration of emotional and cognitive information.


Eighteen young people (mean age 19.8 years) with no personal history of depression but with a biological parent with a history of major depression (FH+ participants) and 16 controls (mean age 19.9 years) underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while completing an emotional counting Stroop task.


Controls showed significant activation in the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex to both positive and negative words during the emotional Stroop task. This activation was absent in FH+ participants.


Our findings show that people at increased familial risk of depression demonstrate impaired modulation of the anterior cingulate cortex in response to emotionally valenced stimuli.

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