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Increased neural and pupillary reactivity to emotional faces in adolescents with current and remitted major depressive disorder.

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Max Owens

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This study combined multiple levels of analysis to examine whether disrupted neural and pupillary reactivity to emotional faces serves as a state- or trait-like marker of adolescent major depressive disorder (MDD). The study examined differences in pupil dilation and the event-related potential (ERP) late positive potential (LPP) component to emotional faces before and after a negative mood induction between 71 adolescents (age 11–18 years) with (i) a current diagnosis of MDD, (ii) a past episode of MDD currently in full remission and (iii) no lifetime history of any Axis I disorder. Relative to healthy control (HC) youth, adolescents with current or remitted MDD exhibited an enhanced LPP and pupillary response to all emotional facial expressions (fearful, happy and sad). This difference in reactivity between remitted depressed and HC adolescents persisted following the negative mood induction. Results also revealed that LPP and pupillary responses to emotional faces were significantly related, but only among the currently depressed adolescents. This study suggests that increased physiological and neural activation in response to social-emotional stimuli may not only characterize currently depressed adolescents, but also remains following MDD remission, potentially serving as a mechanism of risk for future depression relapse.


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Oxford University Press

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