Background: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is an increasingly common and disabling illness. As the amygdala has been reported to have pathological involvement in mood disorders, we aimed to investigate for the first time potential changes to structural connectivity of individual amygdala subnuclei in MDD using ultra-high-field 7T diffusion magnetic resonance imaging. Methods: Twenty-four patients with MDD (11 women) and 24 age-matched healthy control participants (7 women) underwent diffusion-weighted imaging with a 1.05-mm isotropic resolution at 7T. Amygdala nuclei regions of interest were obtained through automated segmentation of 0.69-mm resolution T1-weighted images and 0.35-mm resolution T2-weighted images. Probabilistic tractography was performed on all subjects, with random seeding at each amygdala nucleus. Results: The right lateral, basal, central, and centrocortical amygdala nuclei exhibited significantly increased connection density to the rest of the brain, whereas the left medial nucleus demonstrated significantly lower connection density (false discovery rate p < .05). Increased connection density in the right lateral and basal nuclei was driven by the stria terminalis, and the significant difference in the right central nucleus was driven by the uncinate fasciculus. Decreased connection density at the left medial nucleus did not appear to be driven by any individual white matter tract. Conclusions: By exploiting ultra-high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging, structural hyperconnectivity was demonstrated involving the amygdaloid nuclei in the right hemisphere in MDD. To a lesser extent, impairment of subnuclei connectivity was shown in the left hemisphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-193
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • 7T
  • Amygdala
  • Diffusion MRI
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Neuroimaging
  • Tractography
  • Ultra-high-field


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