BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of sad mood on default mode network (DMN) resting-state connectivity in persons with chronic major depressive disorder (cMDD).
METHODS: Participants with a diagnosis of cMDD (n=18) and age, gender and education level matched participants without a diagnosis of depression (n=18) underwent a resting-state fMRI scan, before and after a sad mood induction. The posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) was used as a seed for DMN functional connectivity across the two resting-state measurements.
RESULTS: Mood ratings decreased in both groups following the sad mood induction procedure. PCC connectivity with the parahippocampal gyrus, the superior temporal gyrus and the anterior inferior temporal cortex increased in cMDD patients following the sad mood induction, whereas it decreased in non-patient controls. PCC connectivity with the anterior prefrontal cortex and the precuneus decreased in cMDD patients following the sad mood induction, whereas it increased in non-patient controls.
LIMITATIONS: Limitations of this study include the relatively small sample size and lack of a clinical control group.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings are in line with neurobiological models of depression suggesting that the observed changes in DMN connectivity following the sad mood induction might reflect a failure to exert cognitive control over negative memory retrieval in patients with cMDD.