The effect of acute citalopram on face emotion processing in remitted depression: A pharmacoMRI study

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Both reduced serotonergic (5-HT) function and negative emotional biases have been associated with vulnerability to depression. In order to investigate whether these might be related we examined 5-HT modulation of affective processing in 14 remitted depressed subjects compared with 12 never depressed controls matched for age and sex. Participants underwent function magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during a covert face emotion task with and without intravenous citalopram (7.5. mg) pretreatment. Compared with viewing neutral faces, and irrespective of group, citalopram enhanced left anterior cingulate blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) response to happy faces, right posterior insula and right lateral orbitofrontal responses to sad faces, and reduced amygdala responses bilaterally to fearful faces. In controls, relative to remitted depressed subjects, citalopram increased bilateral hippocampal responses to happy faces and increased right anterior insula response to sad faces. These findings were not accounted for by changes in BOLD responses to viewing neutral faces. These results are consistent with previous findings showing 5-HT modulation of affective processing; differences found in previously depressed participants compared with controls may contribute to emotional processing biases underlying vulnerability to depressive relapse. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. and ECNP.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-148
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


  • Citalopram
  • Face emotion processing
  • FMRI
  • PharmacoMRI
  • Remitted depression


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