Cerebellar responses during anticipation of noxious stimuli in subjects recovered from depression. Functional magnetic resonance imaging study.
Smith KA., Ploghaus A., Cowen PJ., McCleery JM., Goodwin GM., Smith S., Tracey I., Matthews PM.
BACKGROUND: Subjects recovered from depression have a substantial risk for recurrence of depression, suggesting persistent abnormalities in brain activity. AIMS: To test whether women recovered from depression show abnormal brain activity in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during a conditioning paradigm with a noxious pain stimulus. METHOD: Ten unmedicated women who had recovered from major depression and eight healthy control women each received either noxious hot or non-noxious warm stimuli, the onset of which was signalled by a specific coloured light during 3-tesla echo planar imaging-based fMRI. RESULTS: Similar patterns of brain activation were found during painful stimulation for both patients and healthy controls. However, relative to healthy controls, subjects recovered from depression showed a reduced response in the cerebellum during anticipation of the noxious stimulus compared with anticipation of the non-noxious stimulus. CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that abnormal cerebellar function could be a marker of vulnerability to recurrent depression. This could provide a new target for therapeutic interventions.