Neural correlates of dysfunctional emotion regulation in major depressive disorder. A systematic review of neuroimaging studies

Maria M. Rive, Geeske van Rooijen, Dick J. Veltman, Mary L. Phillips, Aart H. Schene, Henricus G. Ruhé

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337 Citations (Scopus)


Abnormal emotion processing is a core feature of major depressive disorder (MDD). Since the emergence of functional neuroimaging techniques, many studies have been conducted in MDD subjects to elucidate the underlying abnormalities in the neural systems involved in emotion regulation. In this systematic review, we discuss this research in the context of the neural model of emotion regulation previously described by Phillips et al. (2008). This model differentiates between automatic and voluntary emotion regulation subprocesses. Automatic regulation subprocesses were shown to involve predominantly medial prefrontal cortical structures, in addition to the hippocampus and parahippocampus, while voluntary regulation processes additionally recruited lateral prefrontal cortical regions. In conclusion, although the available data is limited, findings suggest that MDD subjects demonstrate abnormally reduced activity in lateral prefrontal cortices during explicit voluntary control of emotional experience. During early, automatic stages of emotion regulation, on the other hand, MDD subjects appear to achieve successful emotion regulation by recruiting additional lateral prefrontal neural regions, that may be mediated by medial prefrontal, especially rostral/dorsal anterior cingulate gyrus (ACG) functioning. Dysfunctional automatic regulation may impair successful voluntary emotion regulation, and may present a target for novel therapeutic approaches in MDD
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2529-2553
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Issue number10 Part 2
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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