Functional MRI correlates of visuospatial planning in out-patient depression and anxiety

M. J. van Tol*, N. J. A. van der Wee, L. R. Demenescu, M. M. A. Nielen, A. Aleman, R. Renken, M. A. van Buchem, F. G. Zitman, D. J. Veltman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: Major depressive disorder (MDD) has been associated with executive dysfunction and related abnormal prefrontal activity, whereas the status of executive function (EF) in frequently co-occurring anxiety disorders and in comorbid depression-anxiety is unclear. We aimed to study functional MRI correlates of (visuospatial) planning in MDD and anxiety disorders and to test for the effects of their comorbidity.

Method: Functional MRI was employed during performance of a parametric Tower of London task in out-patients with MDD (n = 65), MDD with comorbid anxiety (n = 82) or anxiety disorders without MDD (n = 64), and controls (n = 63).

Results: Moderately/severely depressed patients with MDD showed increased left dorsolateral prefrontal activity as a function of task load, together with subtle slowing during task execution. In mildly depressed and remitted MDD patients, in anxiety patients, and in patients with comorbid depression-anxiety, task performance was normal and no activation differences were observed. Medication use and regional brain volume were not associated with altered visuospatial planning.

Conclusion: Prefrontal hyperactivation during high planning demands is not a trait characteristic, but a state characteristic of MDD without comorbid anxiety, occurring independent of SSRI use. Disturbances in planning or the related activation are probably not a feature of anxiety disorders with or without comorbid MDD, supporting the current distinction between anxiety disorders and depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-284
Number of pages12
JournalActa Psychiatrica Scandinavica
Volume124
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2011

Keywords

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • cognitive functioning
  • neuroimaging
  • comorbidity
  • DANISH PET/DEPRESSION PROJECT
  • OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER
  • NATIONAL COMORBIDITY SURVEY
  • UNIPOLAR MAJOR DEPRESSION
  • EVENT-RELATED FMRI
  • PANIC DISORDER
  • WORKING-MEMORY
  • PSYCHIATRIC COMORBIDITY
  • PREFRONTAL DYSFUNCTION
  • EXECUTIVE FUNCTION

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