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Family Risk For Depression And Prioritization Of Religion Or Spirituality: Early Neurophysiological Modulations Of Motivated Attention

Kayser, Jürgen; Tenke, Craig E.; Svob, Connie; Gameroff, Marc J.; Miller, Lisa; Skipper, Jamie; Warner, Virginia; Wickramaratne, Priya; Weissman, Myrna M.

The personal importance of religion or spirituality (R/S) has been associated with a lower risk for major depression (MDD), suicidal behavior, reduced cortical thinning and increased posterior EEG alpha, which has also been linked to antidepressant treatment response in MDD. Building on prior event-related potential (ERP) findings using an emotional hemifield paradigm, this study examined whether abnormal early (preconscious) responsivity to negative arousing stimuli, which is indicative of right parietotemporal dysfunction in both MDD patients and individuals at clinical high risk for MDD, is likewise moderated by R/S. We reanalyzed 72-channel ERP data from 127 individuals at high or low family risk for MDD (Kayser et al., 2017, NeuroImage Clin. 14, 692–707) after R/S stratification (low R/S importance, low/high risk, n = 38/61; high R/S importance, n = 15/13). ERPs were transformed to reference-free current source density (CSD) and quantified by temporal principal components analysis (tPCA). This report focused on N2 sink (peak latency 212 ms), the earliest prominent CSD-tPCA component previously found to be sensitive to emotional content. While overall N2 sink reflected activation of occipitotemporal cortex (prestriate/cuneus), as estimated via a distributed inverse solution, affective significance was marked by a relative (i.e., superimposed) positivity. Statistical analyses employed both non-parametric permutation tests and repeated measures ANOVA for mixed factorial designs with unstructured covariance matrix, including sex, age, and clinical covariates. Participants with low R/S importance, independent of risk status, showed greater ERP responsivity to negative than neutral stimuli, particularly over the right hemisphere. In contrast, early emotional ERP responsivity and asymmetry was substantially reduced for high risk individuals with high R/S importance, however, enhanced for low risk individuals with high R/S importance. Hemifield modulations of these effects (i.e., emotional ERP enhancements with left visual field/right hemisphere stimulus presentations) further corroborated these observations. Results suggest down-regulation of a right-lateralized network for salience detection at an early processing stage in high risk and high R/S importance individuals, presumably to prevent overactivation of ventral brain regions further downstream. These findings may point to a neurophysiological mechanism underlying resilience of families at risk for depression with high R/S prioritization.


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Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

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February 1, 2022