Brain event-related potentials to complex tones in depressed patients: Relations to perceptual asymmetry and clinical features


  • This research was supported by a NIMH grnt (MH36295) to G.E.B., and additional support for data processing was provided by a Mental Health Clinical Research Center Grant (MH30906).

  • We thank Hulya Erhan for her help in testing and Patrick McGrath, Edward Nunes, Ron Goldman, Elaine Tricamo, and other members of the Depression Evaluation Service, where diagnostic evaluations and treatment of patients were conducted. We are also grateful to Charles Brown and Daniel Ruchkin for providing additional laboratory computer software.

Address reprints requests to: Dr. Gerard E. Bruder, Department of Biopsychology, New York State Psychiatric Institute, 722 West 168 Street, New York, NY 10032, USA.


Brain event-related potentials (ERPs) to probe tones in a dichotic complex tone test were recorded from right-handed depressed patients (n= 44) and normal subjects (n= 19) at homologous sites over left and right hemispheres (F3, F4; C3, C4; P3, P4; O1, O2). There were no differences between groups in N1 or P2 amplitude, but patients had smaller P3 amplitude than did normal subjects. Depressed patients failed to show either the left ear advantage or behavior-related hemispheric asymmetry of P3 seen for normal subjects. Depressed patients also showed less differences in hemispheric asymmetry between same and different judgments. These findings indicate that the abnormal behavioral asymmetry for dichotic pitch discrimination in depressed patients reflects a reduction in hemispheric asymmetry and is related to relatively late stages of cognitive processing.