The double burden of age and major depressive disorder on the cognitive control network

Julia A. Rao, Michelle T. Kassel, Anne L. Weldon, Erich T. Avery, Emily M. Briceno, Megan Mann, Bridget Cornett, Helen C. Kales, Jon Kar Zubieta, Robert C. Welsh, Scott A. Langenecker, Sara L. Weisenbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Poor cognitive control (CC) is common among older individuals with major depressive disorder (OMDD). At the same time, studies of CC in OMDD with fMRI are relatively limited and often have small samples. The present study was conducted to further examine poor CC in OMDD with early onset depression, as well as to investigate the interactive effects of MDD and aging on cognitive control. Twenty OMDD, 17 older never-depressed comparisons (ONDC), 16 younger adults with MDD (YMDD), and 18 younger never-depressed comparisons (YNDC) participated. All participants completed the Go level of the Parametric Go/No-Go Test, which requires sustained attention and inhibitory control while undergoing functional MRI (fMRI). YNDC were faster in reaction times (RTs) to go targets relative to the other 3 groups, and the YMDD group was faster than the OMDD group. fMRI effects of both age and diagnosis were present, with greater activation in MDD, and in aging. Additionally, the interaction of age and MDD was also significant, such that OMDD exhibited greater recruitment of fronto-subcortical regions relative to older comparisons. These results are consistent with prior research reporting that OMDD recruit more fronto-striatal regions in order to perform at the same level as their never-depressed peers, here on a task of sustained attention and inhibitory control. There may be an interaction of cognitive aging and depression to create a double burden on the CC network in OMDD, including possible fronto-striatal compensation during CC that is unique to OMDD, as younger MDD individuals do not show this pattern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-485
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology and Aging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Cognitive control
  • Depression
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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