Resting-state functional connectivity of antero-medial prefrontal cortex sub-regions in major depression and relationship to emotional intelligence

Helen Sawaya, Kevin Johnson, Matthew Schmidt, Ashley Arana, George Chahine, Mia Atoui, David Pincus, Mark S. George, Jaak Panksepp, Ziad Nahas

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24 Scopus citations


Background: Major depressive disorder has been associated with abnormal resting-state functional connectivity (FC), especially in cognitive processing and emotional regulation networks. Although studies have found abnormal FC in regions of the default mode network (DMN), no study has investigated the FC of specific regions within the anterior DMN based on cytoarchitectonic subdivisions of the antero-medial pre-frontal cortex (PFC). Studies from different areas in the field have shown regions within the anterior DMN to be involved in emotional intelligence. Although abnormalities in this region have been observed in depression, the relationship between the ventromedial PFC (vmPFC) function and emotional intelligence has yet to be investigated in depressed individuals. Methods: Twenty-one medication-free, non-treatment resistant, depressed patients and 21 healthy controls underwent a resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging session. The participants also completed an ability-based measure of emotional intelligence: the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test. FC maps of Brodmann areas (BA) 25, 10m, 10r, and 10p were created and compared between the two groups. Results: Mixed-effects analyses showed that the more anterior seeds encompassed larger areas of the DMN. Compared to healthy controls, depressed patients had significantly lower connectivity between BA10p and the right insula and between BA25 and the perigenual anterior cingulate cortex. Exploratory analyses showed an association between vmPFC connectivity and emotional intelligence. Conclusions: These results suggest that individuals with depression have reduced FC between antero-medial PFC regions and regions involved in emotional regulation compared to control subjects. Moreover, vmPFC functional connectivity appears linked to emotional intelligence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

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  • Anterior medial PFC
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Major depression
  • Resting state functional connectivity


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