Gray matter volume and rapid decision-making in major depressive disorder

Masayuki Nakano, Koji Matsuo*, Mami Nakashima, Toshio Matsubara, Kenichiro Harada, Kazuteru Egashira, Hiroaki Masaki, Kanji Takahashi, Yoshifumi Watanabe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Reduced motivation and blunted decision-making are key features of major depressive disorder (MDD). Patients with MDD show abnormal decision-making when given negative feedback regarding a reward. The brain mechanisms underpinning this behavior remain unclear. In the present study, we examined the association between rapid decision-making with negative feedback and brain volume in MDD. Methods: Thirty-six patients with MDD and 54 age-, sex- and IQ-matched healthy subjects were studied. Subjects performed a rapid decision-making monetary task in which participants could make high- or low-risk choices. We compared between the 2 groups the probability that a high-risk choice followed negative feedback. In addition, we used voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to compare between group differences in gray matter volume, and the correlation between the probability for high-risk choices and brain volume. Results: Compared to the healthy group, the MDD group showed significantly lower probabilities for high-risk choices following negative feedback. VBM analysis revealed that the MDD group had less gray matter volume in the right medial prefrontal cortex and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) compared to the healthy group. The right OFC volume was negatively correlated with the probability that a high-risk choice followed negative feedback in patients with MDD. We did not observe these trends in healthy subjects. Conclusions: Patients with MDD show reduced motivation for monetary incentives when they were required to make rapid decisions following negative feedback. We observed a correlation between this reduced motivation and gray matter volume in the medial and ventral prefrontal cortex, which suggests that these brain regions are likely involved in the pathophysiology of aberrant decision-making in MDD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-56
Number of pages6
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 3


  • Decision-making
  • Depressive disorder
  • Negative feedback
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Voxel-based morphometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Biological Psychiatry


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