The Comparative Effectiveness of EEG Biomarkers in Antidepressant Response and Illness Prediction in Major Depressive Disorder
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Background: There is growing evidence that individual EEG differences may aid in classifying patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and also help predict clinical response to antidepressant treatment. This study aims to compare the effectiveness of EEG frequency band power, alpha asymmetry and prefrontal theta cordance towards escitalopram response prediction and MDD diagnosis, in a multi-site initiative. Methods: Resting EEG (eyes open and closed) was recorded from 64 electrodes in 44 depressed patients and 20 healthy controls at baseline, 2 weeks post-treatment and 8 weeks post-treatment. Clinical response was measured as change from baseline MADRS of 50% or more. EEG measures were analyzed (1) at baseline (2) at 2 weeks post-treatment and (3) as an ‘‘early change” variable defined as change in EEG from baseline to 2 weeks post-treatment. Results: At baseline, responders exhibited greater absolute alpha power in the left hemisphere versus the right while non-responders showed the opposite. Responders further exhibited a cortical asymmetry of greater right relative to left activity in parietal areas. Groups also differed in baseline relative delta power with responders showing greater power in the right hemisphere versus the left while non-responders showed the opposite. At 2 weeks post-treatment, responders exhibited greater absolute beta power in the left hemisphere relative to right and the opposite was noted for non-responders. The opposite pattern was noted for absolute and relative delta power at 2 weeks post-treatment. Responders exhibited early reduction in relative alpha power and early increments in relative theta power. Non-responders showed a significant early increase in prefrontal theta cordance. Absolute delta power helped distinguish MDD patients from healthy controls. Conclusions: Hemispheric asymmetries in the alpha and delta bands at pre-treatment baseline and at 2 weeks post-treatment have moderate to moderately strong predictive utility towards antidepressant treatment response. These findings have significant potential for improving clinical practice in psychiatry by eventually guiding clinical choice of treatments. This would greatly benefit patients awaiting relief from depressive symptoms as treatment optimization would help overcome problems associated with delayed recovery. Our results also indicate that resting EEG activity may have clinical utility in predicting MDD diagnosis.