Brain Imaging of Psychotherapy for Depression


The goal of the proposed research is to examine the neural correlates of depressive symptom reduction in individuals with major depressive disorder using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and to compare results to those obtained from a nondepressed control group.

Full Title of Study: “Brain Imaging of Psychotherapy for Depression (Includes, “Reward System Recovery Following Behavioral Activation Therapy in Depression”)”

Study Type

  • Study Type: Interventional
  • Study Design
    • Allocation: Non-Randomized
    • Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment
    • Masking: None (Open Label)
  • Study Primary Completion Date: January 2008


  • Behavioral: Brief Behavioral Activation Treatment for Depression
    • Weekly individual therapy sessions

Arms, Groups and Cohorts

  • Experimental: 1
    • Individuals with major depressive disorder receiving therapy

Clinical Trial Outcome Measures

Primary Measures

  • Hamilton Depression Inventory
    • Time Frame: three times over 12 weeks
  • Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging
    • Time Frame: twice in 12 weeks

Participating in This Clinical Trial

Inclusion Criteria

  • For group 1: Diagnosis of current depression and no other current Axis I psychiatric disorder
  • For group 1: Hamilton Depression Rating Scale score of 15 or greater

Exclusion Criteria

  • A history of serious head injury or neurological disease or psychosis
  • Current use of psychoactive medications
  • Factors that could affect MRI safety including current or planned pregnancy
  • For group 2: current Axis I psychiatric disorder, as assessed by structured clinical interview

Gender Eligibility: All

Minimum Age: 21 Years

Maximum Age: 55 Years

Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Principal Investigator: Gabriel Dichter, Associate Professor of Psychiatry – University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Overall Official(s)
    • Gabriel S Dichter, PhD, Principal Investigator, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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