Recent resting-state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging studies have shown significant group differences in several regions and networks between patients with major depressive disorder and healthy controls. The objective of the present study was to investigate the whole-brain resting-state functional connectivity patterns of depressed patients, which can be used to test the feasibility of identifying major depressive individuals from healthy controls. Multivariate pattern analysis was employed to classify 24 depressed patients from 29 demographically matched healthy volunteers. Permutation tests were used to assess classifier performance. The experimental results demonstrate that 94.3% (P < 0.0001) of subjects were correctly classified by leave-one-out cross-validation, including 100% identification of all patients. The majority of the most discriminating functional connections were located within or across the default mode network, affective network, visual cortical areas and cerebellum, thereby indicating that the disease-related resting-state network alterations may give rise to a portion of the complex of emotional and cognitive disturbances in major depression. Moreover, the amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex, parahippocampal gyrus and hippocampus, which exhibit high discriminative power in classification, may play important roles in the pathophysiology of this disorder. The current study may shed new light on the pathological mechanism of major depression and suggests that whole-brain resting-state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging may provide potential effective biomarkers for its clinical diagnosis.
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