ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 53 ›› Issue (10): 1094-1104.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2021.01094

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The role of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex on voluntary forgetting of negative social feedback in depressed patients: A TMS study

CHEN Yuming1, LI Sijin1, GUO Tianyou1,2, XIE Hui1, XU Feng3, ZHANG Dandan1,4,5()   

  1. 1School of Psychology, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen 518060, China
    2Union Shenzhen Hospital (Nanshan Hospital), Shenzhen 518052, China
    3Shenzhen Yingchi Technology Co. Ltd., Shenzhen 518010, China
    4Shenzhen-Hong Kong Institute of Brain Science, Shenzhen 518055, China
    5Magnetic Resonance Imaging Center, Shenzhen 518060, China
  • Received:2021-05-05 Published:2021-10-25 Online:2021-08-23
  • Contact: ZHANG Dandan
  • Supported by:
    General program of National Natural Science Foundation of China(31970980);General program of National Natural Science Foundation of China(31871115);Guangdong philosophy and Social Sciences Planning(GD20CXl08);Shenzhen Hong Kong Institute of brain science innovation(2021SHIBS0003)


The negative mood of depressed patients may result from their inhibition dysfunction. When patients voluntarily forget negative materials, they cannot effectively recruit the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and other frontal brain networks responsible for inhibition control. At the same time, patients have more obvious cognitive neurological barriers in the processing of social information than non-social information and have deficits in voluntary forgetting of social feedback information that is unfavorable to them. To improve the ability to voluntarily forget negative social feedback, we employed transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to activate the left DLPFC (n = 32) or the right DLPFC (n = 30) and examined the change of memory control ability for depressed patients. Results showed that the recall accuracy of social rejection was no significant difference between patients and healthy controls (n = 31) after we used the TMS to activate the left or right DLPFC of patients and activation of the right DLPFC also improved patients’ social attitude towards others. The main contribution of this study is the first attempt to improve the ability of depressed patients in voluntary forgetting by employing TMS. We not only demonstrated a causal relationship between the DLPFC and memory control function but provided a specific neural target for the clinical treatment of memory control deficits in patients with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and drug addiction.

Key words: depression, transcranial magnetic stimulation, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, voluntary forget, social feedback, negative memory, directed forgetting