Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 211–233 | Cite as

Cognitive Deficits in Depression and Functional Specificity of Regional Brain Activity

  • Rebecca L. Levin
  • Wendy HellerEmail author
  • Aprajita Mohanty
  • John D. Herrington
  • Gregory A. Miller
Original Paper


The growing literature on cognitive deficits in depression is considered in light of regional brain activity as well as comorbid anxiety and life stressors. Cognitive impairments associated with depression are reviewed, with an emphasis on various aspects of executive function such as memory, attention, and problem-solving. These deficits are related to patterns of brain activity observed in prefrontal, anterior cingulate, and parietal cortices, as well as in subcortical regions. Evidence for the largely unexplored role of environmental stressors in depression and their impact on cognition and brain function is also examined, and promising avenues of additional research are noted. In addition to promoting interdisciplinary research, systematically assessing variables such as cognitive performance, comorbid anxiety, and relevant stressors may elucidate distinct patterns of brain function and cognition that could inform prevention and intervention.


Depression Anxiety Stress Executive function Prefrontal cortex Anterior cingulate cortex 



The authors thank Amanda Howald for assistance preparing this manuscript and Anna S. Engels and Sarah M. Sass for their input on this manuscript. The present work was supported by NIDA (R21 DA14111), NIMH (R01 MH61358, T32 MH19554), and the University of Illinois Intercampus Research Initiative in Biotechnology. John D. Herrington was a predoctoral trainee in the Quantitative Methods program of the Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, supported by NIMH T32 MH14257. He is currently affiliated with the Child Study Center, Yale University, New Haven, CT.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca L. Levin
    • 1
  • Wendy Heller
    • 1
    Email author
  • Aprajita Mohanty
    • 2
  • John D. Herrington
    • 1
  • Gregory A. Miller
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbana-ChampaignUSA
  2. 2.Institute for Neurosciences and Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease CenterNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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