The neural basis of conceptual–emotional integration and its role in major depressive disorder

a Neuroscience and Aphasia Research Unit, School of Psychological Sciences , The University of Manchester & Manchester Academic Health Sciences Centre , Manchester , UK.
Social neuroscience (Impact Factor: 2.66). 07/2013; 8(5). DOI: 10.1080/17470919.2013.810171
Source: PubMed


The importance of differentiating between social concepts when appraising actions (e.g., understanding behavior as critical vs. fault-finding) and its contribution to vulnerability to major depressive disorder (MDD) is unknown. We predicted poor integration of differentiated conceptual knowledge when people with MDD appraise their social actions, contributing to their tendency to grossly overgeneralize self-blame (e.g., "I am unlikable rather than critical"). To test this hypothesis, we used a neuropsychological test measuring social conceptual differentiation and its relationship with emotional biases in a remitted MDD and a control group. During fMRI, guilt- and indignation-evoking sentences were presented. As predicted, conceptual overgeneralization was associated with increased emotional intensity when appraising social actions. Interdependence of conceptual overgeneralization and negative emotional biases was stronger in MDD (reproducible in the subgroup without medication) and was associated with overgeneralized self-blame. This high conceptual-emotional interdependence was associated with functional disconnection between the right superior anterior temporal lobe (ATL) and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) as well as a septal region across groups when experiencing guilt (SPM8). Strong coupling of conceptual information (ATL) with information about the context of actions and emotions (frontal-subcortical regions) is thus associated with appraisal being less dependent on conceptual overgeneralization, thereby protecting against excessive self-blame.

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Available from: Roland Zahn, Oct 05, 2015
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    • "We further demonstrated that this ATL functional disconnection selectively occurred when patients experienced guilt relative to indignation towards others during the fMRI scan. This neural signature accounted for the wellknown tendency of overgeneralizing self-blame and guilt in MD (Green et al., 2013). This group-level standard analysis, however, is unable to answer the clinical question of whether this particular fMRI signature has the potential to serve as a biomarker to detect vulnerability in the individual. "
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    ABSTRACT: Standard functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) analyses cannot assess the potential of a neuroimaging signature as a biomarker to predict individual vulnerability to major depression (MD). Here, we use machine learning for the first time to address this question. Using a recently identified neural signature of guilt-selective functional disconnection, the classification algorithm was able to distinguish remitted MD from control participants with 78.3% accuracy. This demonstrates the high potential of our fMRI signature as a biomarker of MD vulnerability. Crown Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
    07/2015; 38(2). DOI:10.1016/j.pscychresns.2015.07.001
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    ABSTRACT: Acute pain induces depressed mood, and chronic pain is known to cause depression. Depression, meanwhile, can also adversely affect pain behaviors ranging from symptomology to treatment response. Pain and depression independently induce long-term plasticity in the central nervous system (CNS). Comorbid conditions, however, have distinct patterns of neural activation. We performed a review of the changes in neural circuitry and molecular signaling pathways that may underlie this complex relationship between pain and depression. We also discussed some of the current and future therapies that are based on this understanding of the CNS plasticity that occurs with pain and depression.
    Neural Plasticity 02/2015; 2015:504691. DOI:10.1155/2015/504691 · 3.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive models predict that vulnerability to major depressive disorder (MDD) is due to a bias to blame oneself for failure in a global way resulting in excessive self-blaming emotions, decreased self-worth, hopelessness and depressed mood. Clinical studies comparing the consistency and coherence of these symptoms in order to probe the predictions of the model are lacking. 132 patients with remitted MDD and no relevant lifetime co-morbid axis-I disorders were assessed using a phenomenological psychopathology-based interview (AMDP) including novel items to assess moral emotions (n=94 patients) and the structured clinical interview-I for DSM-IV-TR. Cluster analysis was employed to identify symptom coherence for the most severe episode. Feelings of inadequacy, depressed mood, and hopelessness emerged as the most closely co-occurring and consistent symptoms (≥90% of patients). Self-blaming emotions occurred in most patients (>80%) with self-disgust/contempt being more frequent than guilt, followed by shame. Anger or disgust towards others was experienced by only 26% of patients. 85% of patients reported feelings of inadequacy and self-blaming emotions as the most bothering symptoms compared with 10% being more distressed by negative emotions towards others. Symptom assessment was retrospective, but this is unlikely to have biased patients towards particular emotions relative to others. As predicted, feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness were part of the core depressive syndrome, closely co-occurring with depressed mood. Self-blaming emotions were highly frequent and bothering but not restricted to guilt. This calls for a refined assessment of self-blaming emotions to improve the diagnosis and stratification of MDD. Crown Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Journal of Affective Disorders 08/2015; 186:JADD1500334. DOI:10.1016/j.jad.2015.08.001 · 3.38 Impact Factor