OPEN Foundation

Close this search box.

Regulation of neural responses to emotion perception by ketamine in individuals with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder

Share This Post


The glutamate N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist ketamine has demonstrated antidepressant effects in individuals with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (TRD) within 24h of a single dose. The current study utilized functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and two separate emotion perception tasks to examine the neural effects of ketamine in patients with TRD. One task used happy and neutral facial expressions; the other used sad and neutral facial expressions. Twenty patients with TRD free of concomitant antidepressant medication underwent fMRI at baseline and 24h following administration of a single intravenous dose of ketamine (0.5mgkg−1). Adequate data were available for 18 patients for each task. Twenty age- and sex-matched healthy volunteers were scanned at one time point for baseline comparison. Whole-brain, voxel-wise analyses were conducted controlling for a family-wise error rate (FWE) of P<0.05. Compared with healthy volunteers, TRD patients showed reduced neural responses to positive faces within the right caudate. Following ketamine, neural responses to positive faces were selectively increased within a similar region of right caudate. Connectivity analyses showed that greater connectivity of the right caudate during positive emotion perception was associated with improvement in depression severity following ketamine. No main effect of group was observed for the sad faces task. Our results indicate that ketamine specifically enhances neural responses to positive emotion within the right caudate in depressed individuals in a pattern that appears to reverse baseline deficits and that connectivity of this region may be important for the antidepressant effects of ketamine.

Murrough, J. W., Collins, K. A., Fields, J., DeWilde, K. E., Phillips, M. L., Mathew, S. J., … & Iosifescu, D. V. (2015). Regulation of neural responses to emotion perception by ketamine in individuals with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder. Translational psychiatry, 5(2).
Link to full text

OPEN Foundation

Join ICPR 2022 Online!

ICPR features world-leading experts from many academic disciplines, including psychiatry, psychology, neuroscience, anthropology, ethnobotany, and philosophy who come together to give a scientific conference for academics, therapists, researchers, clinicians, policymakers, and members of the public. Get your ICPR 2022 livestream ticket today and use the code OPENLIVE30 at checkout for a €30 discount.

Learn More


Subscribe to our new OPEN-Minded newsletter to stay in the loop, hear about our events, and become a part of a community dedicated to advancing psychedelics.

By clicking subscribe, I confirm to receive emails from the OPEN Foundation and agree with its privacy policy.