Major depression is associated with altered static functional connectivity in various brain networks, particularly the default mode network (DMN). Dynamic functional connectivity is a novel tool with little application in affective disorders to date, and holds the potential to unravel fluctuations in connectivity strength over time in major depression. We assessed stability of connectivity in major depression between the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), key nodes in the DMN that are implicated in ruminative cognitions. Functional connectivity stability between the mPFC and PCC over the course of a resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan was compared between medication-free patients with major depression and healthy controls matched for age, sex and handedness. We tested replicability of the results in an independent sample using multi-echo resting-state fMRI. The primary sample included 20 patients and 19 controls, while the validation sample included 19 patients and 19 controls. Greater connectivity variability was detected in major depression between mPFC and PCC. This was demonstrated in both samples indicating that the results were reliable and were not influenced by the fMRI acquisition approach used. Our results demonstrate that alterations within the DMN in major depression go beyond changes in connectivity strength and extend to reduced connectivity stability within key DMN regions. Findings were robustly replicated across two independent samples. Further research is necessary to better understand the nature of these fluctuations in connectivity and their relationship to the aetiology of major depression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Biological Psychiatry