Background Rumination, a tendency to focus on negative self-related thoughts, is a central symptom of depression. Studying the self-related aspect of such symptoms is challenging due to the need to distinguish self effects per se from the emotional content of task stimuli. This study employs an emotionally neutral self-related paradigm to investigate possible altered self processing in depression and its link to rumination.Methods People with unipolar depression (MDD; n = 25) and controls (n = 25) underwent task-based EEG recording. Late event-related potentials were studied along with low frequency oscillatory power. EEG metrics were compared between groups and correlated with depressive symptoms and reported rumination.Results The MDD group displayed a difference in late potentials across fronto-central electrodes between self-related and non-self-related conditions. No such difference was seen in controls. The magnitude of this difference was positively related with depressive symptoms and reported rumination. MDD also had elevated theta oscillation power at central electrodes in self-related conditions, which was not seen in controls.Conclusions Rumination appears linked to altered self-related processing in depression, independently of stimuli-related emotional confounds. This connection between self-related processing and depression may point to self-disorder being a core component of the condition.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.Funding StatementThe authors would like to thank all participants for their time and effort. They are grateful also to Hsin-Yi Wang and Ching Lin for help with patient recruitment and data collection. This work was supported by funding from the Taiwan Ministry of Science and Technology to TJL (107-2632-H-038-001-MY3), TYH (109-2410-H-038-010), and NWD (108-2410-H-038-008-MY2). This work was also supported by the Taiwan Ministry of Education Higher Education Sprout Project.Author DeclarationsI confirm all relevant ethical guidelines have been followed, and any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained.YesThe details of the IRB/oversight body that provided approval or exemption for the research described are given below:Taipei Medical University JIRBAll necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived.YesI understand that all clinical trials and any other prospective interventional studies must be registered with an ICMJE-approved registry, such as ClinicalTrials.gov. I confirm that any such study reported in the manuscript has been registered and the trial registration ID is provided (note: if posting a prospective study registered retrospectively, please provide a statement in the trial ID field explaining why the study was not registered in advance).YesI have followed all appropriate research reporting guidelines and uploaded the relevant EQUATOR Network research reporting checklist(s) and other pertinent material as supplementary files, if applicable.YesParticipants did not give consent to their data being shared openly and so the data included in this analysis are only available from the authors upon reasonable request.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2021.03.18.21253930
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

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