Prefrontal cortex activity differentiates processes affecting memory in depression

Jack B. Nitschke, Wendy Heller, Marci A. Etienne, Gregory A. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Deficits in the initiation and utilization of strategies contribute importantly to memory impairments in depression. Other research on depression has documented memory biases toward negative and away from positive material. This study investigated brain mechanisms accompanying the initiative deficit and negative bias processes affecting memory in depressed individuals. Electroencephalography was recorded prior to and during emotional narratives and correlated with subsequent memory recognition of narrative material. Hypothesized to reflect strategy initiation, bilateral activity of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) preceding a sad narrative was associated with memory performance for that narrative in nondepressed controls only. Negative memory bias in depressed participants was inferred from their association between right prefrontal activity during the sad narrative and memory performance, consistent with research implicating that region in withdrawal-related unpleasant emotions. These results highlight the importance of distinguishing processes that influence memory performance when investigating the neural mechanisms of cognitive deficit and bias in depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-143
Number of pages19
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2004


  • Depression
  • Emotion
  • Frontal EEG asymmetry
  • Memory
  • Prefrontal cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Prefrontal cortex activity differentiates processes affecting memory in depression'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this