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Ruminative reflection is associated with anticorrelations between the orbitofrontal cortex and the default mode network in depression: implications for repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation


Patients with depression who ruminate repeatedly focus on depressive thoughts; however, there are two cognitive subtypes of rumination, reflection and brooding, each associated with different prognoses. Reflection involves problem-solving and is associated with positive outcomes, whereas brooding involves passive, negative, comparison with other people and is associated with poor outcomes. Rumination has also been related to atypical functional hyperconnectivity between the default mode network and subgenual prefrontal cortex. Repetitive pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation of the prefrontal cortex has been shown to alter functional connectivity, suggesting that the abnormal connectivity associated with rumination could potentially be altered. This study examined potential repetitive pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation prefrontal cortical targets that could modulate one or both of these rumination subtypes. Forty-three patients who took part in a trial of repetitive pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation completed the Rumination Response Scale questionnaire and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. Seed to voxel functional connectivity analyses identified an anticorrelation between the left lateral orbitofrontal cortex (-44, 26, -8; k = 172) with the default mode network-subgenual region in relation to higher levels of reflection. Parallel analyses were not significant for brooding or the RRS total score. These findings extend previous studies of rumination and identify a potential mechanistic model for symptom-based neuromodulation of rumination.

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