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Stern, E., Welsh, R., Gonzalez, R., Fitzgerald, K., Abelson, J., & Taylor, S. (2013). Subjective uncertainty and limbic hyperactivation in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Human Brain Mapping. 34, 1956-1970. DOI: 10.1002/hbm.22038 …

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How does the brain facilitate rumination and what is the relation to depression?

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This paper compares how depressed and healthy controls differ in their ability to forget information, particularly negative information, which may be a precursor for psychological processes such as rumination. There are several interesting aspects about this paper. My favorite is a relatively new approach to fMRI data analysis that focuses on spatial variability in activation. We find that participants with major depressive disorder show more spatially variable activation in the inferior frontal gyrus compared to healthy control participants using a directed-forgetting task.

Berman, M., Nee, D., Casement, M., Kim, H., Deldin, P., Kross, E., Gonzalez, R., Gotlib, I., Hamilton, P., Joorman, J., Waugh, C., & Jonides, J. (2011). Neural and behavioral effects of interference resolution in depression and rumination. Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience, 11, 85-96. doi:10.3758/s13415-010-0014-x (PDF)


Individuals diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) often ruminate about their depression and their life situations, impairing their concentration and performance on daily tasks. We examined whether rumina- tion might be due to a deficit in the ability to expel negative information from short-term memory (STM), and fMRI was used to examine the neural structures involved in this ability. MDD and healthy control (HC) participants were tested using a directed-forgetting procedure in a short-term item recognition task. As predicted, MDD participants had more difficulty than did HCs in expelling negative, but not positive, words from STM. Overall, the neural networks involved in directed forgetting were similar for both groups, but the MDDs exhibited more spatial variability in activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus (a region critical for inhibiting irrelevant information), which may contribute to their relative inability to inhibit negative information.