Power signatures of habenular neuronal signals in patients with bipolar or unipolar depressive disorders correlate with their disease severity.
The habenula is an epithalamic structure implicated in negative reward mechanisms and plays a downstream modulatory role in regulation of dopaminergic and serotonergic functions. Human and animal studies show its hyperactivity in depression which is curtailed by the antidepressant response of ketamine. Deep brain stimulation of habenula (DBS) for major depression have also shown promising results. However, direct neuronal activity of habenula in human studies have rarely been reported. Here, in a cross-sectional design, we acquired both spontaneous resting state and emotional task-induced neuronal recordings from habenula from treatment resistant depressed patients undergoing DBS surgery. We first characterise the aperiodic component (1/f slope) of the power spectrum, interpreted to signify excitation-inhibition balance, in resting and task state. This aperiodicity for left habenula correlated between rest and task and which was significantly positively correlated with depression severity. Time-frequency responses to the emotional picture viewing task show condition differences in beta and gamma frequencies for left habenula and alpha for right habenula. Notably, alpha activity for right habenula was negatively correlated with depression severity. Overall, from direct habenular recordings, we thus show findings convergent with depression models of aberrant excitatory glutamatergic output of the habenula driving inhibition of monoaminergic systems.