Electroencephalographic measures of regional hemispheric activity in offspring at risk for depressive disorders

Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York, USA.
Biological Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 10.26). 03/2005; 57(4):328-35. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2004.11.015
Source: PubMed


Electroencephalographic (EEG) studies have found abnormal regional hemispheric asymmetries in depressive disorders, which have been hypothesized to be vulnerability markers for depression. In a longitudinal high-risk study, resting EEG was measured in primarily adult offspring of depressed or nondepressed probands.
Electroencephalograms from12 homologous sites over each hemisphere (digitally linked-ears reference) were analyzed in right-handed offspring for whom both parents (n = 18), one parent (n = 40), or neither parent (n = 29) had a major depressive disorder (MDD).
Offspring with both parents having MDD showed greater alpha asymmetry at medial sites, with relatively less activity (more alpha) over right central and parietal regions, compared with offspring having one or no parent with MDD. Relatively less left frontal activity at lateral sites was associated with lifetime MDD in offspring but not with parental MDD. Offspring with both parents having a MDD also showed markedly greater anterior-to- posterior increase in alpha with eyes closed compared with those with one or no parent with a MDD.
Alpha asymmetry indicative of right parietotemporal hypoactivity, previously reported for depressed adolescents and adults, and heightened anterior-to-posterior gradient of alpha are present in high-risk offspring having parents concordant for MDD.

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    • "The difference in parietal asymmetry between high-and low-risk groups did not depend on having a lifetime diagnosis of major depression or anxiety disorder, and prior findings also suggest that this alpha asymmetry is not state-dependent , but may represent a trait marker of vulnerability for depression. Relatively less right parietal activity was found in members of both second and third generations who did not have a depressive disorder but were at high risk [Bruder et al., 2005, 2007]. It was also present in remitted depressed adults who were euthymic during EEG testing [Henriques and Davidson, 1990]. "
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