Background: Rumination, a tendency to focus on negative self-related thoughts, is a central symptom of depression. Studying the self-related aspect of such symptoms is challenging because of the need to distinguish self effects from the emotional content of task stimuli. This study employed an emotionally neutral self-related paradigm to investigate possible altered self-processing in depression and its link to rumination. Methods: People with major depressive disorder (n = 25) and controls (n = 25) underwent task-based electro-encephalogram recording. We studied late event-related potentials, along with low-frequency oscillatory power. We compared elec-troencephalogram metrics between groups and correlated them with depressive symptoms and reported rumination. Results: Participants with major depressive disorder displayed a difference in late positive potentials across frontocentral electrodes between self-related and non-self-related conditions. We found no such difference in controls. The magnitude of this difference was positively correlated with depressive symptoms and reported rumination. Participants with major depressive disorder also had elevated theta oscillation power at central electrodes in self-related conditions, a finding that we did not see in controls. Limitations: Patients with major depressive disorder were medicated at the time of the study. The group studied was primarily female, so the observed effects may have been sex-specific. Conclusion: Rumination appears to be linked to altered self-related processing in depression, independent of stimuli-related emotional confounds. This connection between self-related processing and depression may point to a self disorder as a core component of depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E518-E527
JournalJournal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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