Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Magdalena Ferdek (Donders series 416)

20 January 2020

Promotor: prof. dr. E. van Luijtelaar
Co-promotors: prof. dr. Mirosław Wyczesany (Uniwersytet Jagielloński, Polen),
dr. C. van Rijn, dr. J. Oosterman

Effective connectivity study of Repetitive Negative Thinking in clinical and non-clinical groups

Chronic pain and depression are prevalent and often co-occur. The underlying biological mechanism of their comorbid incidence remains only partly understood. Ineffective emotional control is one of the trans-diagnostic factors between depression and chronic pain and can manifest in the form of Repetitive Negative Thinking (RNT) such as pain catastrophizing or depressive rumination. This thesis aimed to identify common effective connectivity patterns for depressive disorder, endometriosis-related chronic pain, and high RNT tendencies in nonclinical groups, that are related to the impaired emotional regulation of negatively-valenced stimuli. Four EEG experiments were conducted on clinical and nonclinical groups wherein brain activity was measured during induced depressive rumination or pain-related negative imagery. To assess the effective connectivity, the Directed Transfer Function method was used, which is based on Granger causality principles and provides a multivariate estimation of information flow rate and direction. Common effective connectivity patterns in beta oscillations were identified and were related to the dysregulation of the fronto-temporal emotional regulation brain circuit. Emotional regulation abilities could be an important target in therapies and preventive actions for depression and chronic pain.