Current sleep disturbance in older people with a lifetime history of depression is associated with increased connectivity in the Default Mode Network

Andrew C. McKinnon, Ian B. Hickie, Jan Scott, Shantel L. Duffy, Louisa Norrie, Zoe Terpening, Ron R. Grunstein, Jim Lagopoulos, Jennifer Batchelor, Simon J. G. Lewis, James M. Shine, Sharon L. Naismith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background The present study investigated Default Mode Network (DMN) functional connectivity in subjects with a lifetime history of major depression, comparing those with and without current sleep disturbance. Controls were included to assess DMN abnormalities specific to depression. Methods A total of 93 adults aged 50 years and over were recruited from the Healthy Brain Ageing Clinic at the Brain and Mind Centre, Sydney, Australia. The sample comprised two groups, including 22 controls and 71 participants with a lifetime history of DSM-IV major depression (with depressive episode current or remitted). 52 of those with a lifetime history of depression also met criteria for Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Participants underwent resting-state fMRI along with comprehensive psychiatric, neuropsychological, and medical assessment. Subjective sleep quality was assessed via the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). Sleep disturbance was defined as a PSQI score > 5. A total of 68% (n = 48) of cases with a lifetime history of depression met criteria for sleep-disturbance. DMN functional connectivity was assessed via ROI-to-ROI analyses. Results Relative to controls, those with lifetime major depression demonstrated significantly increased functional connectivity between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the temporal pole. Within the depression group (n = 48), those with current sleep disturbance had significantly increased connectivity between the anterior medial prefrontal cortex and both the parahippocampal cortex and the hippocampal formation, relative to those without sleep disturbance (n = 23). These results were present after controlling for MCI diagnosis. Conclusions Current sleep disturbance together with depression is associated with distinct abnormalities in DMN functioning incorporating regions responsible for self-reflection and declarative memory processes. Impaired sleep is associated with increased connectivity between these regions. Future studies may augment these findings with complementary imaging techniques including cortical thickness and diffusion tensor imaging, as well as high density electroencephalogram recording.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-94
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2018



  • Default Mode Network
  • depression
  • sleep
  • resting-state
  • functional connectivity
  • ageing

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