Neural correlates of rumination in depression

Rebecca E. Cooney, Jutta Joormann, Fanny Eugène, Emily L. Dennis, Ian H. Gotlib

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

266 Scopus citations


Rumination, or recursive self-focused thinking, has important implications for understanding the development and maintenance of depressive episodes. Rumination is associated with the worsening of negative mood states, greater affective responding to negative material, and increased access to negative memories. The present study was designed to use fMRI to examine neural aspects of rumination in depressed and healthy control individuals. We used a rumination induction task to assess differences in patterns of neural activation during ruminative self-focus as compared with a concrete distraction condition and with a novel abstract distraction condition in 14 participants who were diagnosed with major depressive disorder and 14 healthy control participants. Depressed participants exhibited increased activation in the orbitofrontal cortex, subgenual anterior cingulate, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex as compared with healthy controls during rumination versus concrete distraction. Neural activity during rumination versus abstract distraction was greater for depressed than for control participants in the amygdala, rostral anterior cingulate/medial prefrontal cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate, and parahippocampus. These findings indicate that ruminative self-focus is associated with enhanced recruitment of limbic and medial and dorsolateral prefrontal regions in depression. Supplemental materials for this article may be downloaded from supplemental.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)470-478
Number of pages9
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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