Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 250-255

Study of frontal alpha asymmetry in mild depression: A potential biomarker or not?

1 Department of Psychiatry, H. B. T. Medical College and Dr. R. N. Cooper Mun. Gen. Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
2 Department of Electronics and Telecommunication, Mukesh Patel School of Technology, Management and Engineering, NMIMS University, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Suyog Vijay Jaiswal
Department of Psychiatry, H. B. T. Medical College and Dr. R. N. Cooper Mun. Gen. Hospital, Juhu, Mumbai - 400 056, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jnrp.jnrp_293_18

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Background: Depression, despite being the most common of mental illness lacks any quantifiable and absolute biomarker. Frontal alpha asymmetry (FAA) is proposed as biomarker of depression both in resting and activated state. Yet, the location of extraction of alpha, clinical utility as well as validity of FAA is uncertain. With aim of obtaining clarity on this confusion we conducted this study. Methodology: Electroencephalographic frontal alpha power was calculated in patients of depression (n = 24) and compared with healthy controls (n = 17) for the assessment of FAA. Both groups were studied for resting phase and activation phase changes in FAA. For activation phase, auditory stimuli in the form of Indian classical music were used. Results: Frontal alpha power was measured across FP1, FP2, F3, F4, F7, and F8. Mean powers were compared in resting (before), activated (during) and postactivated resting stage (after). FAA was statistically significant in F7–F8 pair of electrodes and on F7 electrode when compared between cases and controls. Conclusion: Quest for biomarker for depression churned out FAA as frontrunner. Despite of vast amount of research on it, practical utility eludes us. We need to revisit our approach from conventional search of the diagnostic biomarker; as FAA might reflect component of depression but not totally disorder. In our opinion, we are not yet ready for it and have a road ahead to travel.

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