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Br J Psychiatry. 2009 Feb;194(2):139-45. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.107.047993.

Risk for depression and neural responses to fearful facial expressions of emotion.

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  • 1Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Depression is associated with neural abnormalities in emotional processing.

AIMS:

This study explored whether these abnormalities underlie risk for depression.

METHOD:

We compared the neural responses of volunteers who were at high and low-risk for the development of depression (by virtue of high and low neuroticism scores; high-N group and low-N group respectively) during the presentation of fearful and happy faces using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

RESULTS:

The high-N group demonstrated linear increases in response in the right fusiform gyrus and left middle temporal gyrus to expressions of increasing fear, whereas the low-N group demonstrated the opposite effect. The high-N group also displayed greater responses in the right amygdala, cerebellum, left middle frontal and bilateral parietal gyri to medium levels of fearful v. happy expressions.

CONCLUSIONS:

Risk for depression is associated with enhanced neural responses to fearful facial expressions similar to those observed in acute depression.

PMID:
19182175
DOI:
10.1192/bjp.bp.107.047993
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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