Face Processing in Major Depression: Pathology, Risk, and Resilience

Aberrant brain connectivity during emotional processing, especially within the fronto-limbic pathway, is one of the hallmarks of major depressive disorder (MDD). However, the methodological heterogeneity of previous studies made it difficult to determine the functional and etiological implications of specific alterations in brain connectivity. We previously reported alterations in psychophysiological interaction measures during emotional face processing, distinguishing depressive pathology from at-risk/resilient and healthy states. Here, we extended these findings by effective connectivity analyses in the same sample to establish a refined neural model of emotion processing in depression.

Thirty-seven patients with MDD, 45 first-degree relatives of patients with MDD and 97 healthy controls performed a face-matching task during functional magnetic resonance imaging. We used dynamic causal modeling to estimate task-dependent effective connectivity at the subject level. Parametric empirical Bayes was performed to quantify group differences in effective connectivity.

MDD patients showed decreased effective connectivity from the left amygdala and left lateral prefrontal cortex to the fusiform gyrus compared to relatives and controls, whereas patients and relatives showed decreased connectivity from the right orbitofrontal cortex to the left insula and from the left orbitofrontal cortex to the right fusiform gyrus compared to controls. Relatives showed increased connectivity from the anterior cingulate cortex to the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex compared to patients and controls.

Our results suggest that the depressive state alters top-down control of higher visual regions during face processing. Alterations in connectivity within the cognitive control network present potential risk or resilience mechanisms.

Classic Psychedelic Use and Mechanisms of Mental Health: Exploring the Mediating Roles of Spirituality and Emotion Processing on Symptoms of Anxiety, Depressed Mood, and Disordered Eating in a Community Sample

Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Ahead of Print. A resurgence of research has begun to systematically examine the relationship between psychedelic use and mental health and well-being. Although preliminary findings examining the therapeutic value of these substances show promise, the mechanisms through which psychedelic use may predict reduced mental distress remain poorly understood. To this end, we surveyed a community sample of individuals (n = 159) who endorsed lifetime psychedelic use to examine relationships among psychedelic use and self-reported spirituality, difficulties in emotion regulation, and symptoms of mental health issues. Results revealed a pathway through which classic psychedelic use predicted greater spirituality, which in turn predicted better emotion regulation, ultimately predicting lower levels of anxiety, depressed mood, and disordered eating. These results contribute to our understanding of potential mechanisms of change with respect to psychedelics and mental health. They also add to the growing body of literature pointing to the healing effects of the cultivation of spirituality and emotion regulation as separate and related constructs.

Depression and the Emotions

Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behaviour, feelings, and sense of well-being. In its extreme form, depression leads to a state where one no longer feels one’s emotions, which is ultimately meant by the term ‘depression’, an overall decrease in feeling one’s emotions, including …

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Connecting with Oneself Successfully

To be happy one needs to connect with oneself emotionally and cognitively. This is largely an automatic process and mostly requires little conscious effort. However, there may be situations where one has become anxious or even fearful of open communication and a deeper connection with oneself, which obscures the basic parameters, one’s own needs, values …

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