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East Asian Arch Psychiatry. 2018 Mar;28(1):17-22.

Frontal Theta Asymmetry as a Biomarker of Depression.

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Department of Psychiatry, H B T Medical College & Dr R N Cooper Municipal General Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.
Department of Electronics & Telecommunication, Mukesh Patel School of Technology, Management & Engineering, NMIMS University, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.



Electroencephalography (EEG) has been used extensively to study affective disorders. Quantitative spectral analysis of an EEG scan has been used to assess the biological basis of emotional disorders such as depression as well as to investigate biomarkers of affective disorders. Inter-hemispheric asymmetries in both baseline and stimulus-evoked frequencies (alpha, beta, theta, and delta) are potential biomarkers of depression. The role of frontal alpha asymmetry has been established, but other spectral frequencies such as frontal theta remain elusive. We compared the hemispheric differences in frontal theta power in depressed patients and controls before and during listening to music to study the correlation of frontal theta asymmetry with depression.


To determine whether stimulus-evoked frontal theta asymmetry is a biomarker of depression, we compared 23 patients with mild depression (based on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale) with 17 age- and sex-matched controls by conducting EEG at rest and after listening to Indian classical music.


In controls without depression, the mean frontal theta power of the left hemisphere and frontal theta asymmetry increased significantly during music listening. In depressed patients, frontal theta asymmetry was reversed during music listening.


Frontal theta asymmetry is a potential biomarker of depression.


Depression; Electroencephalography; Music

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