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Depression Research and Treatment
Volume 2012, Article ID 156529, 11 pages
Clinical Study

Neuromagnetic Indication of Dysfunctional Emotion Regulation in Affective Disorders

1Department of Psychology, Zukunftskolleg, University of Konstanz, 78457 Konstanz, Germany
2Department of Psychology, University of Delaware, Newark, 19716 DE, USA

Received 29 September 2011; Revised 10 January 2012; Accepted 24 January 2012

Academic Editor: Bernard Sabbe

Copyright © 2012 Christian Pietrek et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Dysfunctional emotion regulation is often reported in affective disorders, but it is unclear whether this dysfunction concerns initial processing of emotional input or regulation of resulting emotion. The present study addressed these aspects in 27 depressive and 15 borderline personality disorder patients and 28 healthy controls who were instructed to either passively view unpleasant and neutral pictures or downregulate emotional responses by reappraisal, while neuromagnetic brain activity was measured. All three groups showed more early response to unpleasant than to neutral pictures, whereas patients failed to show subsequent activity suppression under instructions to down-regulate. This deficient emotion regulation was evident primarily in those subjects reporting high childhood adversity. Results support intact emotional input processing but impaired emotion regulation in affective disorders and indicate a moderating influence of early life stress.