ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 49 ›› Issue (10): 1302-1321.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2017.01302

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 The neuropsychological mechanism of therapy in depression and anxiety disorder: A meta-analysis of functional neuroimaging studies

 REN Zhihong1,2; RUAN Yijun1,3; ZHAO Qingbai4; ZHANG Wei4; LAI Lizu4; JIANG Guangrong4   

  1.  (1 School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Fuzhou University, Fuzhou 350108, China) (2 Department of Counseling Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin 53704, USA) (3 School of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China) (4 Key Laboratory of Adolescent Cyberpsychology and Behavior (CCNU), Ministry of Education; School of Psychology, Central China Normal University; Key Laboratory of Human Development and Mental Health of Hubei Province, Wuhan 430079, China)
  • Received:2016-10-20 Published:2017-10-25 Online:2017-08-13
  • Contact: JIANG Guangrong, E-mail: E-mail:E-mail:
  • Supported by:

Abstract:  Some commonality is assumed between depression and anxiety disorder in terms of brain regions that are responsible for the disorder and treatment effect. However empirical evidence is lacking due to the fact that most studies investigating treatment effect on activating change in abnormal brain regions only focused on one of the two disorders. The current study, using meta-analysis, explored the types of neuropsychological commonality between depression and anxiety disorder. Additionally, discrepancies in brain activity change between depression and anxiety disorder due to treatment methods (psychotherapy or pharmacological treatment) and task states (resting state or task state) when brain activity is recorded were also investigated. The activation likelihood estimation (ALE) was used to conduct the meta-analysis of studies with neuroimaging data. There were twenty-five studies met the inclusion criteria, containing 15 depression and 10 anxiety studies, of which among them 10 experiments used psychotherapy and 16 pharmacological therapy. In terms of task state, 12 experiments recorded the brain activity in a resting state and 13 in a task state. The meta-analysis was conducted under standard Talairach space, and we translated those reported results using Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) coordinated into Talairach coordinate. The probability maps used p < 0.001 as threshold and corrected it using Uncorrected P. The minimum cluster size was set at 250 mm3. In order to provide a visual view of activation distributions, we used the Mango software to project the activation coordinates onto a brain template. Results showed that there were similar changes in some brain regions between depression and anxiety disorder after treatment, namely the activation of inferior occipital gyrus, cingulate gyrus, superior parietal lobule and lentiform nucleus increased, and that of lentiform nucleus, inferior frontal gyrus, medial frontal gyrus, precuneus, anterior cingulate and middle frontal gyrus decreased. When using disorder type as classification, the analysis showed that both types of treatment of depression led to increased activity in cingulate gyrus, inferior occipital gyrus, superior parietal lobule and precuneus, and decreased activity in precuneus, inferior frontal gyrus, lentiform nucleus, superior temporal gyrus, middle temporal gyrus, parahippocampal gyrus, middle frontal gyrus, thalamus and postcentral gyrus, while both treatments of anxiety resulted in decreased activity in anterior cingulate/medial frontal gyrus. When using therapeutic method as classification, psychotherapy led to deactivation of lentiform nucleus, while pharmacological therapy gave rise to activation in cingulate gyrus, superior parietal lobule and precuneus and deactivation in precuneus, culmen, lentiform nucleus, supramarginal gyrus, superior temporal gyrus, middle temporal gyrus, parahippocampal gyrus, inferior frontal gyrus, insula, superior parietal lobule and anterior cingulate gyrus. Finally, when using task state as classification, the analysis showed that after either type of treatment, the activity of inferior occipital gyrus and fusiform gyrus increased and that of medial frontal gyrus, inferior frontal gyrus, middle frontal gyrus, thalamus and insula activation decreased in the resting state; while the brain activity in the task state was increased in cingulate gyrus, lentiform nucleus, superior parietal lobule and precuneus, and decreased in precuneus, lentiform nucleus, supramarginal gyrus and many other areas. In sum, the current meta-analysis suggested that both psychotherapy and pharmacological treatments led to some similar changes of brain activity among patients with depression or anxiety disorder. Further, disorder type, therapeutic method, and task state played a role in the difference of brain activation after either type of treatment. The current study provided neuropathological support for using either psychotherapy and pharmacological treatment to treat depression and anxiety disorder.

Key words:  depression disorder, anxiety disorder, neuroimaging, ALE meta-analysis, psychotherapy, pharmacological therapy

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