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Impaired left amygdala resting state functional connectivity in subthreshold depression individuals

  • Peng, Xiaoling1, 2
  • Lau, Way K. W.3, 3, 3
  • Wang, Chanyu1
  • Ning, Lingfang1
  • Zhang, Ruibin1, 4
  • 1 Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, 510515, China , Guangzhou (China)
  • 2 Guangzhou Rehabilitation and Research Center for Children With ASD, Guangzhou, 510540, China , Guangzhou (China)
  • 3 The Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China , Hong Kong (China)
  • 4 Zhujiang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, 510282, China , Guangzhou (China)
Published Article
Scientific Reports
Springer Nature
Publication Date
Oct 14, 2020
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-74166-x
Springer Nature


Subthreshold depression (StD) affects people who experience clinically relevant depressive symptoms, which does not meet the diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD). StD represents an ideal model for understanding the pathophysiological mechanisms of depression. Impaired emotion processing is a core feature of depression; careful investigation is required to better understand the neural correlates of emotion processing in depressed populations. In the current study, we explored whether the resting-state functional connectivity of the amygdala, a hub that taps a wide range of brain areas involved in emotion processing, is altered in individuals with StD when compared with healthy controls. Resting-state imaging data was collected from 59 individuals with StD and 59 age- and gender-matched controls. We found that the resting-state functional connectivity of the left amygdala with the cognitive control network and the left insula was significantly lower in people with StD than that in healthy controls. Such association was not observed in the right amygdala. Furthermore, functional connectivity strength between the left amygdala and the left precuneus was positively associated with depressive symptoms in individuals with StD. Our findings are in line with those reported in subjects with MDD, which may assist in further elucidating the pathophysiological mechanisms of depression, and contribute to the development of tailored treatments for individuals with StD who are at high risk of developing MDD.

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