Psychophysiological markers of depression


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The scientific supervisor of the project: PhD, professor A.M. Kustubaeva

1. Name of the project (according to the media plan). "Psychophysiological markers of depression"

2. The goal of the project: determination of EEG biomarkers of depressive states for their objective diagnostics in order to reduce the burden of the socially significant disease. 

3. KNOW-HOW. The uniqueness of this research work lies in the determination of new EEG biomarkers that reliably determine the depressive state during cognitive loads. The commercialization of the research outcomes consists in the development of a computerized complex psychophysiological diagnostic tool, which allows its implementation for the survey of the broad masses of the country's population.

4. Relevance and novelty.

Today depression remains one of the most common diseases leading to disability of a wide range of the population. According to WHO estimations, depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy approximately a trillion dollars annually. Patients with depression, accompanied by impaired cognitive functions, choose tactic of absenteeism (absence from work) or presentism (imitation of activity at work) and reduces the working capacity of the population (Greensberg, 2019). Behavioral disorders often induce criminal acts and therefore are a direct threat to society. An untreated disease leads to a high risk of suicide and decreases quality of life. Thus, in Kazakhstan, suicide mortality is 26.9 per 100,000 population. The lack of objective methods for diagnosing depressive states, along with stigma, complicates the situation. All this has determined the urgent need to develop new objective methods for diagnosing depressive states. 

Obtained results revealed the most informative indicators of spontaneous brain activity during rest and features of event related potentials during the performance of cognitive tasks for executive control and decision making. These results were discussed and published at annual international conferences and showed the significance of the final results for implementation in practice. The psychometric methods developed in the current study were promptly introduced free of charge into the psychotherapeutic practice by our psychotherapists during the pandemic due to the increase in the number of depression cases (in cooperation with UNISEF, UNESCO). On the base of results of completed study, a methodological manual with a full description of the integrated approach carried out for this project was published as well as scientific articles in international journals with a non-zero impact factor. EEG biomarkers are ready for the technical development of equipment for EEG diagnostics of depression.

5. Practical relevance.`

The results of this study confirmed that precisely well-developed cognitive and emotional tasks could reveal deviations in patterns of brain signals associated with the depressive state.The selected cognitive tasks for our studies on the Attentional Network Test (ANT) and on decision making were the relevant loads for the identification of differences in brain activity of healthy and depressive subjects. The scientific and theoretical substantiation of the complex research methodology has confirmed its validity and good potential for using the obtained results for practical purposes. In general, our results showed that the deterioration of executive control in subjects with depression, which is a central regulatory link in cognitive processes, is associated with decreased brain activity in response to specific stimuli. Implementation of the adapted version of cognitive task developed according to the well-known M. Posner’s theory of executive control made it possible to determine such kind of impaired cognitive task performance in depressive subjects as a lower level of functioning of neural networks of cognitive control. The second cognitive decision-making task, aimed at the induction of emotional states and their influence on the complex cognitive decision-making process allowed to identify a deficit in brain activation for perception and feedback.

6. Expected outcomes.

The main scientific outcomes of the study can be implemented in the form of computer program or a device of domestic production for the diagnosis of depressive states and subsequent commercialization of the results in the future. The introduction into practice will allow timely diagnosis and treatment of the disease at an early stage, avoid severe consequences and suicide.

For the first time, a computer program will be developed on the basis of scientifically proved experimental complex which comprises of psychometric, cognitive tasks and psychophysiological methods of diagnostics of depressive states, already adapted and validated in the local population.

EEG biomarkers indicating the deficiency in brain activity and a decrease in brain lability in depression will be laid down as the main criteria in the diagnosis of depression. This device can be widely used in clinical practice to prevent depression and suicide.

7. The object of implementation.

A computer program or device for diagnosing an emotional states.

8. Prospects for implementation.

The results can be implemented in psychotherapeutic practice, security services, human resources services, medical services, research and educational institutions.

9. Consumers.

The data can subsequently be widely used in national and international practice: the intended consumers of the results obtained will be psychological and psychiatric services, security services, human resources services, medical services, research and educational institutions.

10. Competitiveness (Advantages of technology) and commercialization of the project.

The proposed product has a high competitiveness. At the moment there is no analogue of the proposed technology in the domestic market.