Depression affects working memory performance: A Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) Study

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Vural Keleş Ö., YILDIRIM E.

Psychiatry Research - Neuroimaging, vol.329, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 329
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2022.111581
  • Journal Name: Psychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, PASCAL, BIOSIS, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Psycinfo
  • Keywords: Depression, fNIRS, n-Back paradigm, PFC, Working memory
  • Istanbul Medipol University Affiliated: Yes


Depression is a complex disorder that can be caused by psychosocial and biological conditions, and it not only affects to emotional life, but also cognitive functions, specifically the executive functions, attention, psychomotor speed, and memory. Some results of the studies in the literature show that depressed individuals perform worse on cognitive tasks than healthy individuals, while others indicate that there is no difference. Moreover, there is also no consensus about the depressed people brain functionalities. We aimed to compare the people who has high and low depression score measured with Beck Depression Inventory in terms of their working memory performance by using n-back paradigm and their brain activity by using optical imaging with this study. The age of lower BDI group (n = 11) is 23,9 ± 3,04 and higher BDI group (n = 23) is 22,2 + 2,28. The fNIRS were recorded from each subject while neutral words-faces and emotional words-faces are given to the subjects in the visuospatial 2-back WM task. There are no significant differences between the two groups behaviorally during the working memory performance, however, the high BDI group's PFC activation in right hemisphere is founded to be higher than the lower group. Our findings support the literature who is claiming the difference brain activity in depressed brain but not cognitive performance. Though, the small group size and the task difficulty (easy) could be the explanation of the behavioral results.