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The impact of melancholia versus non-melancholia on resting-state, EEG alpha asymmetry: electrophysiological evidence for depression heterogeneity

The impact of melancholia versus non-melancholia on resting-state, EEG alpha asymmetry: electrophysiological evidence for depression heterogeneity

Psychiatry Research 215(3): 614-617

While depression has been associated with relatively greater right than left frontal cortical activity - a neurophysiological marker reflecting greater activation of the withdrawal system - contradictory findings have been reported. It was hypothesised that melancholia would be associated with relative right frontal activation, in comparison to non-melancholia and controls. We collected 2-min of resting-state, eyes closed, electroencephalographic activity from a total of 237 participants including 117 patients with major depressive disorder (57 with melancholia, 60 with non-melancholia) and 120 healthy controls. In contrast to hypotheses, patients with non-melancholia displayed relative left frontal activation in comparison to controls and those with melancholia. These findings were associated with a small to moderate effect size (Cohen's d=0.30-0.34). Critically, patients with melancholic subtype did not differ from controls despite increased severity - relative to those with non-melancholia - on clinical measures. These results may reflect an increase in approach tendencies in patients with non-melancholia including reassurance seeking, anger or irritable aggression. Findings highlight the need for further research on the heterogeneity MDD.

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Accession: 056368168

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PMID: 24467874

DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2013.12.049

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