Frontostriatal deficits in unipolar major depression

Mental Health Research Institute, and Department of Psychiatry, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
Brain Research Bulletin (Impact Factor: 2.97). 12/1998; 47(4):297-310. DOI: 10.1016/S0361-9230(98)00126-9

ABSTRACT Recent accounts of major depression have tended to focus on dysfunction of frontothalamic-striatal reentrant circuits as a possible source of the disorder. Evidence of frontostriatal involvement in unipolar major depression from lesion and neuropsychological studies, and functional and structural imaging studies is examined. The high incidence of depressive symptomatology following left frontal and basal ganglia lesions implicate these as possible sites of dysfunction. Neuropsychological evidence indicates similar deficits in patients with major depression, perhaps with dorsolateral prefrontal deficits most prominent. Structural imaging studies report frontal and basal ganglia (BG) abnormalities particularly in cases of late-age onset depression. Resting state functional imaging studies show deficits in dorsolateral, anterior cingulate (medial frontal), and BG structures. Activation imaging studies show less consistent evidence of dorsolateral deficit, while anterior cingulate deficit is more consistently demonstrated. Variability in findings across studies may reflect differences between subtypes of depression and differences in methodology. Possible involvement of the BG in the psychomotor retardation of depression is examined. It is concluded that, while there is evidence of frontostriatal deficit in major depression, the exact nature of such deficits is uncertain. Issues such as component vs. system dysfunction need to be addressed.

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