Evidence for impaired cortical inhibition in patients with unipolar major depression.
BACKGROUND: Several lines of evidence suggest that central cortical inhibitory mechanisms, especially associated with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmission, may play a role in the pathophysiology of major depression. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a useful tool for investigating central cortical inhibitory mechanisms associated with GABAergic neurotransmission in psychiatric and neurological disorders. METHODS: By means of transcranial magnetic stimulation, different parameters of cortical excitability, including motor threshold, the cortical silent period, and intracortical inhibition/facilitation, were investigated in 20 medication-free depressed patients and 20 age- and gender-matched healthy volunteers. RESULTS: Silent period and intracortical inhibition were reduced in depressed patients, consistent with a reduced GABAergic tone. Moreover, patients showed a significant hemispheric asymmetry in motor threshold. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides evidence of reduced GABAergic tone and motor threshold asymmetry in patients with major depression.
Bajbouj, M; Lisanby, SH; Lang, UE; Danker-Hopfe, H; Heuser, I; Neu, P
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