Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Dave Hayes




postpartum depression, PPD, fMRI, self-esteem, functional magnetic resonance imaging, neuroimaging, postpartum


Background: Postpartum depression (PPD) is a psychiatric mood disorder that effects 1 in 10 women in the United States. There are relatively few behavioral studies looking at the association between PPD and self-esteem. There are even fewer studies looking at neuroimaging comparisons between PPD and self-esteem.. The goal of this study was to look at the neuroanatomical overlap of activated brain regions involved in both self-esteem and PPD processing. We hypothesized that the right amygdala, PCC, and insula would be involved in both processes.

Methods: Maps were created using the MKDA program in MATLAB. These images were extent-based cluster-wise activation maps created using the Monte-Carlo Simulation at 5000 iterations. Self-esteem and PPD maps were overlapped to find common regions of activation. An individual cluster map of major depressive disorder functioned as a positive control.

Results: The results supported part of our hypothesis. The insula, rostral anterior cingulate cortex, dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, and thalamus were involved in both self-esteem and PPD processing. Therefore our prediction of the insula being involved in both processes was confirmed, however our prediction of PCC and right amygdala activation was not supported by our results.

Discussion: The insula, rostral and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, and thalamus are all involved in emotional processing. PPD is a mood disorder that disrupts emotional stability and low self-esteem is often associated with sadness/anger or other negative feelings. Therefore, it is plausible to believe that these structures are involved in PPD and self-esteem processing.