Abnormal functional brain asymmetry in depression: Evidence of biologic commonality between major depression and dysthymia

Psychiatry Research, 05/31/2012

Dysthymia and major depressive disorder share a common abnormality of hemispheric asymmetry for dichotic listening.


  • Unmedicated patients having either a MDD (n=96) or “pure” dysthymic disorder (n=42) and healthy controls (n=114) were tested on dichotic fused-words and complex-tone tests.
  • Patient and control groups differed in right hemisphere advantage for complex tones, but not left hemisphere advantage for words.


  • Reduced right hemisphere advantage for tones was equally present in MDD and dysthymia, but was more evident among depressed men than depressed women.
  • Also, healthy men had greater hemispheric asymmetry than healthy women for both words and tones, whereas this gender difference was not seen for depressed patients.

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