Reduced accuracy accompanied by reduced neural activity during the performance of an emotional conflict task by unmedicated patients with major depression: A CAN-BIND fMRI study
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METHODS: We studied 48 MDD and 30 HC who performed an emotional conflict task in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner. RESULTS: On the emotional conflict task, MDD and HC demonstrated a robust emotional Stroop effect in reaction time and accuracy. Overall, accuracy was lower in MDD compared to HC with no significant reaction time differences. The fMRI data indicated lower BOLD activation in MDD compared to HC on comparisons of all trials, congruent, incongruent, and incongruent > congruent trials in regions including right inferior temporal gyrus, lateral occipital cortex, and occipital fusiform gyrus. Behavioural and neuroimaging data indicated no group differences in fearful versus happy face processing. LIMITATIONS: Inclusion of a neutral condition may have provided a valuable contrast to how MDD and HC process stimuli without emotional valence compared to stimuli with a strong emotional valence. CONCLUSIONS: MDD and HC demonstrated a robust emotional Stroop effect. Compared to HC, MDD demonstrated an overall reduced accuracy on the emotional conflict task and reduced BOLD activity in regions important for face perception and emotion information processing, with no differences in responding to fearful versus happy faces. These findings provide support for the theory of emotion context insensitivity in individuals with depression.
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