Escitalopram ameliorates differences in neural activity between healthy comparison and major depressive disorder groups on an fMRI Emotional conflict task: A CAN-BIND-1 study Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Identifying objective biomarkers can assist in predicting remission/non-remission to treatment, improving remission rates, and reducing illness burden in major depressive disorder (MDD). METHODS: Sixteen MDD 8-week remitters (MDD-8), twelve 16-week remitters (MDD-16), 14 non-remitters (MDD-NR) and 30 healthy comparison participants (HC) completed a functional magnetic resonance imaging emotional conflict task at baseline, prior to treatment with escitalopram, and 8 weeks after treatment initiation. Patients were followed 16 weeks to assess remitter status. RESULTS: All groups demonstrated emotional Stroop in reaction time (RT) at baseline and Week 8. There were no baseline differences between HC and MDD-8, MDD-16, or MDD-NR in RT or accuracy. By Week 8, MDD-8 demonstrated poorer accuracy compared to HC. Compared to HC, the baseline blood-oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal was decreased in MDD-8 in brain-stem and thalamus; in MDD-16 in lateral occipital cortex, middle temporal gyrus, and cuneal cortex; in MDD-NR in lingual and occipital fusiform gyri, thalamus, putamen, caudate, cingulate gyrus, insula, cuneal cortex, and middle temporal gyrus. By Week 8, there were no BOLD activity differences between MDD groups and HC. LIMITATIONS: The Emotional Conflict Task lacks a neutral (non-emotional) condition, restricting interpretation of how mood may influence perception of non-emotionally valenced stimuli. CONCLUSIONS: The Emotional Conflict Task is not an objective biomarker for remission trajectory in patients with MDD receiving escitalopram treatment. Escitalopram may have influenced emotion recognition in MDD groups in terms of augmented accuracy and BOLD signal in response to an Emotional Conflict Task, following 8 weeks of escitalopram treatment.


  • Alders, Gésine L
  • Davis, Andrew D
  • MacQueen, Glenda
  • Strother, Stephen C
  • Hassel, Stefanie
  • Zamyadi, Mojdeh
  • Sharma, Gulshan B
  • Arnott, Stephen R
  • Downar, Jonathan
  • Harris, Jacqueline K
  • Lam, Raymond W
  • Milev, Roumen
  • Müller, Daniel J
  • Ravindran, Arun
  • Kennedy, Sidney H
  • Frey, Benicio
  • Minuzzi, Luciano
  • Hall, Geoffrey

publication date

  • March 2020