Amygdala and dorsomedial hyperactivity to emotional faces in youth with remitted Major Depression

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We present neuroimaging markers of the remitted state of major depressive disorder (rMDD) during facial emotion perception in 84 individuals during fMRI. Participants comprised 47 individuals (aged 18–23) diagnosed with rMDD and 37 healthy controls (HCs). Participants classified emotional faces or animals (control condition) in the Facial Emotion Perception Test (FEPT) during fMRI. Behavioural performance on the FEPT did not differ significantly between groups. During fMRI, both groups demonstrated significant blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) activity in bilateral inferior frontal gyri for the faces minus animals (F−A) contrast. The rMDD group additionally showed BOLD activity during F−A in numerous regions, including the bilateral paracingulate gyri, middle temporal gyri and right amygdala. The rMDD group exhibited significantly greater activity than the HC group in regions including the bilateral middle temporal gyri and left superior frontal gyrus. Although the rMDD group did not manifest the behavioural performance deficits on facial emotion recognition tasks that have been observed in actively depressed individuals, the rMDD group nevertheless showed increased BOLD activity compared with never-depressed controls during F-A in multiple posterior brain regions, suggesting that persistent effects of illness or possible trait vulnerabilities may distinguish individuals with rMDD from never-depressed controls.

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