Motivated Attention And Family Risk For Depression: Neuronal Generator Patterns At Scalp Elicited By Lateralized Aversive Pictures Reveal Blunted Emotional Responsivity

Kayser, Jürgen; Tenke, Craig E.; Abraham, Karen S.; Alschuler, Daniel M.; Alvarenga, Jorge E.; Skipper, Jamie; Warner, Virginia; Bruder, Gerard E.; Weissman, Myrna M.

Behavioral and electrophysiologic evidence suggests that major depression (MDD) involves right parietotemporal dysfunction, a region activated by arousing affective stimuli. Building on prior event-related potential (ERP) findings (Kayser et al. 2016 NeuroImage 142:337–350), this study examined whether these abnormalities also characterize individuals at clinical high risk for MDD. We systematically explored the impact of family risk status and personal history of depression and anxiety on three distinct stages of emotional processing comprising the late positive potential (LPP). ERPs (72 channels) were recorded from 74 high and 53 low risk individuals (age 13–59 years, 58 male) during a visual half-field paradigm using highly-controlled pictures of cosmetic surgery patients showing disordered (negative) or healed (neutral) facial areas before or after treatment. Reference-free current source density (CSD) transformations of ERP waveforms were quantified by temporal principal components analysis (tPCA). Component scores of prominent CSD-tPCA factors sensitive to emotional content were analyzed via permutation tests and repeated measures ANOVA for mixed factorial designs with unstructured covariance matrix, including gender, age and clinical covariates. Factor-based distributed inverse solutions provided descriptive estimates of emotional brain activations at group level corresponding to hierarchical activations along ventral visual processing stream. Risk status affected emotional responsivity (increased positivity to negative-than-neutral stimuli) overlapping early N2 sink (peak latency 212 ms), P3 source (385 ms), and a late centroparietal source (630 ms). High risk individuals had reduced right-greater-thanleft emotional lateralization involving occipitotemporal cortex (N2 sink) and bilaterally reduced emotional effects involving posterior cingulate (P3 source) and inferior temporal cortex (630 ms) when compared to those at low risk. While the early emotional effects were enhanced for left hemifield (right hemisphere) presentations, hemifield modulations did not differ between risk groups, suggesting top-down rather than bottom-up effects of risk. Groups did not differ in their stimulus valence or arousal ratings. Similar effects were seen for individuals with a lifetime history of depression or anxiety disorder in comparison to those without. However, there was no evidence that risk status and history of MDD or anxiety disorder interacted in their impact on emotional responsivity, suggesting largely independent attenuation of attentional resource allocation to enhance perceptual processing of motivationally salient stimuli. These findings further suggest that a deficit in motivated attention preceding conscious awareness may be a marker of risk for depression.


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NeuroImage: Clinical

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February 1, 2022