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Department of Psychiatry

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Mental Disorders | Neuroscience and Neurobiology | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


BACKGROUND: There is paucity of neurobiological knowledge about major depressive disorder with psychotic features ("psychotic depression"). This study addresses this knowledge gap by using resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (R-fMRI) to compare functional connectivity in patients with psychotic depression and healthy controls.

METHODS: We scanned patients who participated in a randomized controlled trial as well as healthy controls. All patients achieved remission from depressive and psychotic symptoms with sertraline and olanzapine. We employed Independent Component Analysis in independent samples to isolate the default mode network (DMN) and compared patients and controls.

FINDINGS: The Toronto sample included 28 patients (mean [SD], age 56.2 [13.7]) and 39 controls (age 55.1 [13.5]). The Replication sample included 29 patients (age 56.1 [17.7]) and 36 controls (age 48.3 [17.9]). Patients in the Toronto sample demonstrated decreased between-network functional connectivity between the DMN and bilateral insular, somatosensory/motor, and auditory cortices with peak activity in the right planum polare (t=4.831; p=0.001, Family Wise Error (FWE) corrected). A similar pattern of between-network functional connectivity was present in our Replication sample with peak activity in the right precentral gyrus (t=4.144; p=0.003, FWE corrected).

INTERPRETATION: Remission from psychotic depression is consistently associated with an absence of increased DMN-related functional connectivity and presence of decreased between-network functional connectivity. Future research will evaluate this abnormal DMN-related functional connectivity as a potential biomarker for treatment trajectories.

FUNDING: National Institute of Mental Health.


Biomarkers, Default mode network, Functional connectivity, Major depressive disorder, Psychosis, Remission

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©2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

DOI of Published Version



EBioMedicine. 2018 Oct;36:446-453. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2018.09.025. Epub 2018 Oct 1. Link to article on publisher's site

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.