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Journal Article

Neural correlates of processing emotional prosody in unipolar depression


Scheffler,  K
Department High-Field Magnetic Resonance, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Koch, K., Stegmaier, S., Schwarz, L., Erb, M., Reinl, M., Scheffler, K., et al. (2018). Neural correlates of processing emotional prosody in unipolar depression. Human Brain Mapping, 39(8), 3419-3427. doi:10.1002/hbm.24185.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-7CE0-7
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is characterized by a biased emotion perception. In the auditory domain, MDD patients have been shown to exhibit attenuated processing of positive emotions expressed by speech melody (prosody). So far, no neuroimaging studies examining the neural basis of altered processing of emotional prosody in MDD are available. In this study, we addressed this issue by examining the emotion bias in MDD during evaluation of happy, neutral, and angry prosodic stimuli on a five‐point Likert scale during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). As expected, MDD patients rated happy prosody less intense than healthy controls (HC). At neural level, stronger activation in the middle superior temporal gyrus (STG) and the amygdala was found in all participants when processing emotional as compared to neutral prosody. MDD patients exhibited an increased activation of the amygdala during processing prosody irrespective of valence while no significant differences between groups were found for the STG, indicating that altered processing of prosodic emotions in MDD occurs rather within the amygdala than in auditory areas. Concurring with the valence‐specific behavioral effect of attenuated evaluation of positive prosodic stimuli, activation within the left amygdala of MDD patients correlated with ratings of happy, but not neutral or angry prosody. Our study provides first insights in the neural basis of reduced experience of positive information and an abnormally increased amygdala activity during prosody processing.