Electroencephalographic findings in patients with major depressive disorder during cognitive or emotional tasks: a systematic review
1Unidade de Psicologia do Coaching, Unidade de Neurobiologia Translacional, Laboratório de Pânico e Respiração, Instituto de Psiquiatria, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
Objective: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a prevalent psychiatric condition characterized by
multiple symptoms that cause great distress. Uncovering the brain areas involved in MDD is essential
for improving therapeutic strategies and predicting response to interventions. This systematic review
discusses recent findings regarding cortical alterations in depressed patients during emotional or
cognitive tasks, as measured by electroencephalography (EEG).
Methods: A search of the MEDLINE/PubMed and Cochrane databases was carried out using the
keywords EEG and depression, confined to article title.
Results: The studies identified reveal the frontal cortex as an important brain structure involved in the
complex neural processes associated with MDD. Findings point to disorganization of right-hemisphere
activity and deficient cognitive processing in MDD. Depressed individuals tend to ruminate on negative
information and respond with a pattern of relatively higher right frontal activity to emotional stimuli
associated with withdrawal and isolation.
Conclusion: Patients with MDD may have altered dynamic patterns of activity in several
neuroanatomical structures, especially in prefrontal and limbic areas involved in affective regulation.
Identification of these alterations might help predict the response of patients to different interventions
more effectively and thus maximize the effects both of pharmacotherapeutic and of psychotherapeutic
Keywords: Mood disorders; unipolar; emotion; neuroanatomy; memory; cognitive neuroscience
Citation: de Freitas, Sabrina B., Marques, Alessandra A., Bevilaqua, Mário C., de Carvalho, Marcele Regine, Ribeiro, Pedro, Palmer, Stephen, Nardi, Antonio E., & Dias, Gisele P.. (2016). Electroencephalographic findings in patients with major depressive disorder during cognitive or emotional tasks: a systematic review. Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry, 38(4), 338-346. Epub August 04, 2016. https://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1516-4446-2015-1834
Electroencephalographic findings in patients with major depressive disorder during cognitive or emotional tasks - a systematic review 2016