Right-lateralization of N2-amplitudes in depressive adolescents: an emotional go/no-go study

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Recent studies have proposed the process of emotion regulation as a promising target to study the neurophysiological basis of adolescent depression. Emotion regulation has repeatedly been studied with emotional go/no-go paradigms. To date, no study has examined if the left-frontal hypoactivation associated with depression generalizes to active tasks. The aim of this study was therefore to investigate the hemispheric asymmetry of the N2 component in depressed adolescents in an emotion regulation paradigm.


Twenty-four adolescents diagnosed with major depression (age 11–18) and 30 healthy controls (age 11–18) performed two emotional go/no-go tasks exhibiting negative faces as go trials and positive faces as no-go trials and vice versa.


On the behavioral level, no significant group differences emerged. On the neural level, we found a more right-lateralized N2-amplitude in depressed subjects, while it was more left-lateralized in controls. Furthermore, both groups showed a less negative N2-amplitude to positive no-go stimuli.


This study provides strong support for a general left-frontal hypoactivity in adolescent depression, which also applies to active emotional go/no-go paradigms. Furthermore, the less negative N2 to positive stimuli is consistent with a generally enhanced impulsivity of adolescents toward appetitive stimuli, which is possibly the base of the differential clinical pattern of adolescent in contrast to adult depression.

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