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Disrupted habenula function in major depression

Lawson, RP; Nord, CL; Seymour, B; Thomas, DL; Dayan, P; Pilling, S; Roiser, JP; (2017) Disrupted habenula function in major depression. Molecular Psychiatry , 22 (2) pp. 202-208. 10.1038/mp.2016.81. Green open access

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Abstract

The habenula is a small, evolutionarily conserved brain structure that plays a central role in aversive processing and is hypothesised to be hyperactive in depression, contributing to the generation of symptoms such as anhedonia. However, habenula responses during aversive processing have yet to be reported in individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD). Unmedicated and currently depressed MDD patients (N=25, aged 18-52 years) and healthy volunteers (N=25, aged 19-52 years) completed a passive (Pavlovian) conditioning task with appetitive (monetary gain) and aversive (monetary loss and electric shock) outcomes during high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging; data were analysed using computational modelling. Arterial spin labelling was used to index resting-state perfusion and high-resolution anatomical images were used to assess habenula volume. In healthy volunteers, habenula activation increased as conditioned stimuli (CSs) became more strongly associated with electric shocks. This pattern was significantly different in MDD subjects, for whom habenula activation decreased significantly with increasing association between CSs and electric shocks. Individual differences in habenula volume were negatively associated with symptoms of anhedonia across both groups. MDD subjects exhibited abnormal negative task-related (phasic) habenula responses during primary aversive conditioning. The direction of this effect is opposite to that predicted by contemporary theoretical accounts of depression based on findings in animal models. We speculate that the negative habenula responses we observed may result in the loss of the capacity to actively avoid negative cues in MDD, which could lead to excessive negative focus.

Type: Article
Title: Disrupted habenula function in major depression
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/mp.2016.81
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1038/mp.2016.81
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Brain Repair and Rehabilitation
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1496328
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