Electrophysiological changes related to childhood trauma in patients with major depressive disorder: An event-related potential study
In Soo Heo 1, Young Joon Kwon 1, Hwa-Young Lee 1, Ho Sung Lee 2, Hee-Jung Yoon 3, Se-hoon Shim 1*, Ji Sun Kim 1
1Department of Psychiatry, Soonchunhyang University Cheonan Hospital, Cheonan, Republic of Korea, 2Department of Pulmonology and Allergy, Soonchunhyang University Cheonan Hospital, Cheonan, Republic of Korea, 3The Korean Society of Infectious Diseases, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Received: April 28, 2021; Revised: June 21, 2021; Accepted: July 12, 2021; Published online: July 12, 2021.
© The Korean College of Neuropsychopharmacology. All rights reserved.

Objective: Childhood trauma is the most important environmental factor for several psychiatric disorders. Depressed patients with childhood trauma appear to have severe symptoms that frequently recur. This study investigated whether depressed patients with childhood trauma showed attenuated Nogo event-related potentials (ERPs) and source activity during response-inhibition tasks.
Methods: 44 patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) were instructed to perform a Go/Nogo task during electroencephalography. Sensors and source activities of N2 and P3 of the Nogo ERPs were analyzed. The participants’ clinical symptoms were assessed using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), Beck Depression Inventory, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Barratt Impulsivity Scale, and Affective Lability Scale. The participants were divided into two groups (low and high), based on their total CTQ scores.
Results: MDD subjects with high CTQ scores showed significantly decreased Nogo P3 amplitudes at the frontal, frontocentral, central, and parietal electrodes than those with low CTQ scores (all p < 0.01). In Nogo P3, the source activities of the right cuneus, right posterior cingulate cortex, right precuneus, left supramarginal gyrus, and left lingual gyrus were significantly lower in the high CTQ group than in the low one (all p < 0.01). There were significant negative correlations between the total CTQ scores and the Nogo P3 amplitudes in the frontocentral (p = 0.03) and parietal regions (p = 0.02), which showed lower source activity in the Nogo P3 condition.
Conclusion: Depressed patients with severe childhood trauma showed different Nogo-ERP characteristics, which might reflect inhibitory failure and dysfunction in related brain regions.
Keywords: Childhood trauma, Depression, Go/Nogo task, Source activity