Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci.  2020 Feb;18(1):58-66. 10.9758/cpn.2020.18.1.58.

Frontal Alpha Asymmetry Moderated by Suicidal Ideation in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: A Comparison with Healthy Individuals

  • 1Clinical Emotion and Cognition Research Laboratory, Inje University, Goyang, Korea
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, Soonchunhyang University Hospital, Cheonan, Korea
  • 3Department of Biomedical Engineering, Hanyang University, Seoul, Korea
  • 4Department of Psychiatry, Ilsan Paik Hospital, Inje University College of Medicine, Goyang, Korea


Objective: Frontal alpha asymmetry (FAA) of electroencephalography (EEG) has been studied to differentiate patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) from healthy controls (HC). However, inconsistent results have been obtained thus far. Suicidal ideation (SI) has been known to alter frontal lobe activity, and could be an important covariate in FAA studies. This study aimed to explore the influence of FAA on the relationship among MDD patients with SI and without SI, and HC.
Sixty-seven patients with MDD (44 without and 23 with SI) and 60 HCs were recruited. Resting state EEG was recorded with their eyes open, and FAA as a lateralized index of alpha power was calculated in the frontal brain region. Hamilton Rating Scale for Anxiety and Depression scores were estimated.
FAA was higher (increased alpha power in the left frontal region) in the MDD group than in the HC group. The FAA was lower (reduced alpha power in the left frontal region) in MDD patients with SI than in MDD patients without SI. The severity of depression and anxiety symptoms were significantly correlated with FAA only in MDD patients with SI. SI moderated the effects of depressive symptom on FAA in the MDD group.
Our results suggest that SI is a clinically important moderator of frontal alpha asymmetry in patients with MDD.


Alpha asymmetry; Frontal alpha asymmetry; Major depressive disorder; Suicidal ideation; Quantitative electroencephalography
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