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Altered hippocampal function in major depression despite intact structure and resting perfusion.

Finkelmeyer, A.; Nilsson, J.; He, J.; Stevens, L.; Maller, J. J.; Moss, R. A.; Small, S.; Gallagher, P.; Coventry, K.; Ferrier, I. N.; McAllister-Williams, R. H.


A. Finkelmeyer

J. Nilsson

J. He

L. Stevens

J. J. Maller

S. Small

P. Gallagher

K. Coventry

I. N. Ferrier

R. H. McAllister-Williams


Background: Hippocampal volume reductions in major depression have been frequently reported. However, evidence for functional abnormalities in the same region in depression has been less clear. We investigated hippocampal function in depression using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and neuropsychological tasks tapping spatial memory function, with complementing measures of hippocampal volume and resting blood flow to aid interpretation. Method: A total of 20 patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and a matched group of 20 healthy individuals participated. Participants underwent multimodal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): fMRI during a spatial memory task, and structural MRI and resting blood flow measurements of the hippocampal region using arterial spin labelling. An offline battery of neuropsychological tests, including several measures of spatial memory, was also completed. Results: The fMRI analysis showed significant group differences in bilateral anterior regions of the hippocampus. While control participants showed task-dependent differences in blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) signal, depressed patients did not. No group differences were detected with regard to hippocampal volume or resting blood flow. Patients showed reduced performance in several offline neuropsychological measures. All group differences were independent of differences in hippocampal volume and hippocampal blood flow. Conclusions: Functional abnormalities of the hippocampus can be observed in patients with MDD even when the volume and resting perfusion in the same region appear normal. This suggests that changes in hippocampal function can be observed independently of structural abnormalities of the hippocampus in depression.


FINKELMEYER, A., NILSSON, J., HE, J., STEVENS, L., MALLER, J.J., MOSS, R.A., SMALL, S., GALLAGHER, P., COVENTRY, K., FERRIER, I.N. and MCALLISTER-WILLIAMS, R.H. 2016. Altered hippocampal function in major depression despite intact structure and resting perfusion. Psychological medicine [online], 46(10), pages 2157-2168. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 10, 2016
Online Publication Date May 19, 2016
Publication Date Jul 31, 2016
Deposit Date Sep 3, 2021
Publicly Available Date Sep 3, 2021
Journal Psychological Medicine
Print ISSN 0033-2917
Electronic ISSN 1469-8978
Publisher Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 46
Issue 10
Pages 2157-2168
Keywords Hippocampus; Magnetic resonance imaging; Depressive disorder; Spatial memory
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FINKELMEYER 2016 Altered hippocampal (2 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
This article has been published in a revised form in Psychological medicine . This version is published under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NCND. No commercial re-distribution or re-use allowed. Derivative works cannot be istributed. © Cambridge University Press 2016.

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