Introduction: Adolescents with major depressive disorder (MDD) exhibit hypoactivity to positive stimuli and hyperactivity to negative stimuli in terms of neural responses. Automatic emotion regulation (AER) activates triple networks (i.e., the central control network, default mode network, and salience network). Based on previous studies, we hypothesized that adolescents with MDD exhibit dissociable spatiotemporal deficits during positive and negative AER. Methods: We first collected EEG data from 32 adolescents with MDD and 35 healthy adolescents while they performed an implicit emotional Go/NoGo task. Then, we characterized the spatiotemporal dynamics of cortical activity during AER. Results: In Go trials, MDD adolescents exhibited reduced N2 amplitudes, enhanced theta power for positive pictures, and stronger bottom-up information flow from the left orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) to the right superior frontal gyrus compared to top-down information flow than the controls. In contrast, in NoGo trials, MDD adolescents exhibited elevated P3 amplitudes, enhanced theta power, and stronger top-down information flows from the right middle frontal gyrus to the right OFC and the left insula than the controls. Conclusion: Overall, adolescents with MDD exhibited impaired automatic attention to positive emotions and impaired automatic response inhibition. These findings have potential implications for the clinical treatment of adolescents with MDD.

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