Objective: Deficits of mismatch negativity (MMN), a general index of echoic memory function, have been documented in patients with schizophrenia. However, it remains controversial whether patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) demonstrate MMN defects compared with healthy controls (HC). Methods: After screening 41 potential studies identified in PubMed and Medline, 13 studies consisting of 343 HC and 339 patients with MDD were included in the present meta-analysis. The effect sizes (Hedges's g) with a random-effect and inverse-variance weighted model were estimated for the MMN amplitudes and latencies. The effects of different deviant types (i.e., frequency and duration) and of different illness stages (i.e., acute and chronic) on MMN were also examined. Results: We found that 1) MMN amplitudes (g = 1.273, p < 0.001) and latencies (g = 0.303, p = 0.027) to duration, but not frequency deviants, were significantly impaired in patients with MDD compared to HC; 2), acute patients exhibited lower MMN amplitudes (g = 1.735, p < 0.001) and prolonged MMN latencies (g = 0.461, p = 0.007) for the duration deviants compared to HC. Only the attenuated duration MMN amplitudes were detected in patients with chronic MDD (g = 0.822, p = 0.027); and 3) depressive symptoms did not significantly correlate with MMN responses. Conclusions: Patients with MDD demonstrated abnormal MMN responses to duration deviants compared to HC. Significance: Duration MMN may constitute an electrophysiological indicator to differentiate HC from patients with MDD, particularly those in the acute stage.
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