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Open Access Research

Frontostriatal functional connectivity in major depressive disorder

Daniella J Furman*, J Paul Hamilton and Ian H Gotlib

Author affiliations

Department of Psychology, Stanford University, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305-2004, USA

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Citation and License

Biology of Mood & Anxiety Disorders 2011, 1:11  doi:10.1186/2045-5380-1-11

Published: 8 December 2011

Abstract

Background

Abnormalities of the striatum and frontal cortex have been reported consistently in studies of neural structure and function in major depressive disorder (MDD). Despite speculation that compromised connectivity between these regions may underlie symptoms of MDD, little work has investigated the integrity of frontostriatal circuits in this disorder.

Methods

Functional magnetic resonance images were acquired from 21 currently depressed and 19 never-disordered women during wakeful rest. Using four predefined striatal regions-of-interest, seed-to-whole brain correlations were computed and compared between groups.

Results

Compared to controls, depressed participants exhibited attenuated functional connectivity between the ventral striatum and both ventromedial prefrontal cortex and subgenual anterior cingulate cortex. Depressed participants also exhibited stronger connectivity between the dorsal caudate and dorsal prefrontal cortex, which was positively correlated with severity of the disorder.

Conclusions

Depressed individuals are characterized by aberrant connectivity in frontostriatal circuits that are posited to support affective and cognitive processing. Further research is required to examine more explicitly the link between patterns of disrupted connectivity and specific symptoms of depression, and the extent to which these patterns precede the onset of depression and normalize with recovery from depressive illness.

Keywords:
depression; functional connectivity; striatum; subgenual anterior cingulate cortex; dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; fMRI