Psychological Medicine

Original Articles

Regional cerebral blood flow in depression measured by positron emission tomography: the relationship with clinical dimensions

C. J. Bencha1 c1, K. J. Fristona1, R. G. Browna1, R. S. J. Frackowiaka1 and R. J. Dolana1

a1 Academic Department of Psychiatry, Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, MRC Cyclotron Unit, Hammersmith Hospital, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, and MRC Human Movement and Balance Unit, London


We have previously reported focal abnormalities of regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in a group of 33 patients with major depression. This report, on an extended sample of 40 patients who demonstrated identical regional deficits to those previously described, examines the relationships between depressive symptoms and patterns of rCBF. Patients' symptom ratings were subjected to factor analysis, producing a three-factor solution. The scores for these three factors, which corresponded to recognizable dimensions of depressive illness, were then correlated with rCBF. The first factor had high loadings for anxiety and correlated positively with rCBF in the posterior cingulate cortex and inferior parietal lobule bilaterally. The second factor had high loadings for psychomotor retardation and depressed mood and correlated negatively with rCBF in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and left angular gyrus. The third factor had a high loading for cognitive performance and correlated positively with rCBF in the left medial prefrontal cortex. These data indicate that symptomatic specificity may be ascribed to regional functional deficits in major depressive illness.


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Christopher J. Bench, MRC Cyclotron Unit, Hammersmith Hospital, Du Cane Road, London W12 0HS.