The oft-neglected role of parietal EEG asymmetry and risk for major depressive disorder

Jennifer L. Stewart, David N. Towers, James A. Coan, John J.B. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Relatively less right parietal activity may reflect reduced arousal and signify risk for major depressive disorder (MDD). Inconsistent findings with parietal electroencephalographic (EEG) asymmetry, however, suggest issues such as anxiety comorbidity and sex differences have yet to be resolved. Resting parietal EEG asymmetry was assessed in 306 individuals (31% male) with (n=143) and without (n=163) a DSM-IV diagnosis of lifetime MDD and no comorbid anxiety disorders. Past MDD+ women displayed relatively less right parietal activity than current MDD+ and MDD- women, replicating prior work. Recent caffeine intake, an index of arousal, moderated the relationship between depression and EEG asymmetry for women and men. Findings suggest that sex differences and arousal should be examined in studies of depression and regional brain activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-95
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Depression
  • EEG asymmetry
  • Endophenotype

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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