Medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) and other regions like the occipital cortex (OC) exhibit abnormal neural activity in major depressive disorder (MDD). Their relationship to specific biochemical, psychophysical, and psychopathological changes remains unclear, though. For that purpose, we focus on a particular subregion in OC, namely middle temporal (MT) visual area that is known to mediate the perception of visual motion. Using high-field 7 T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), including resting state functional MRI and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy, the amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations (ALFF) of the blood oxygen level-dependent signal in MT, MT-seeded functional connectivity (FC), and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in MT were investigated. Applying the vision motion psychophysical task, the motion suppression index of subjects was also examined. We demonstrate significantly elevated neural variability (as measured by ALFF) in MT together with decreases in both MT GABA and motion suppression in our MDD sample. Unlike in healthy subjects, MT neural variability no longer modulates the relationship of MT GABA and motion suppression in MDD. MT also exhibits reduction in global inter-regional FC to MPFC in MDD. Finally, elevated MT ALFF relates to specifically retardation in behavior as measured by the Hamilton subscore. Together, MT provides a strong candidate for biomarker in MDD.
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