This study examined the main and interactive effects of age and sex on relative glucose metabolic rate (rGMR) within gray matter of 39 cortical Brodmann areas (BAs) and the cingulate gyrus using 18FDG-PET during a verbal memory task in 70 healthy normal adults, aged 20–87 years. Women showed significantly greater age-related rGMR decline in left cingulate gyrus than men (BAs 25, 24, 23, 31, 29). Both groups showed a decline in the anterior cingulate—a neuroanatomical structure that mediates effective cognitive-emotional interactions (BAs 32, 24, 25), while the other frontal regions did not show substantial decline. No sex differences in rGMR were identified within temporal, parietal and occipital lobes. Sex differences were observed for rGMR within subcomponents of the cingulate gyrus with men higher in BA25 and BA29, but lower in BA24 and BA 23 compared to women. For men, better memory performance was associated with greater rGMR in BA24, whereas in women better performance was associated with orbitofrontal-BA12. These results suggest that both age-related metabolic decline and sex differences within frontal regions are more marked in medial frontal and cingulate areas, consistent with some age-related patterns of affective and cognitive change.
Aging; healthy adults; sex differences; 18FDG PET; cingulate; prefrontal cortex
Objective and Methods:
Abnormalities of the neuroanatomy of the gray matter of the cingulate gyrus, especially its anterior segment, have been suggested to be an important characteristic of schizophrenia. In this study, T1-weighted magnetic resonance scans were collected in 53 individuals with schizophrenia and 68 comparison subjects matched for age, gender, race and parental socioeconomic status. We applied Labeled Cortical Mantle Distance Mapping to assess the volume, surface and thickness of the cortical mantle within the anterior (AC) and posterior (PC) segments of the cingulate gyrus, excluding the paracingulate gyrus, and related these anatomical measures to measures of psychopathology and illness duration.
After covarying for total cerebral volume, individuals with schizophrenia showed smaller AC gray matter volume (p=0.024), thickness (trend, p=0.081), but not surface area (p=0.16), than comparison subjects. Similar group differences were found for PC gray matter volume (p=0.0005) and thickness (trend, p=0.055), but not surface area (p=0.15). Across both groups, there was a significant L>R asymmetry in thickness of the AC, and a significant L>R asymmetry in the surface area of the PC. However, there were no significant group-by-hemisphere interactions. In the individuals with schizophrenia, thinning of the AC, but not the PC, was correlated with a longer duration of illness and a greater severity of psychotic symptoms.
Individuals with schizophrenia showed smaller gray matter volumes across the entire cingulate gyrus, mostly due to a reduction in cortical mantle thickness. However, structural measures of the AC were more closely related to clinical features of the illness.
Depth Map; Thickness; Surface Area; Cortex; Thinning
Exposure to psychological trauma is common and predicts long-term physical and mental health problems, even in those who initially appear resilient. Here, we used multimodal neuroimaging in healthy adults who were at different distances from the World Trade Center on 9/11/01 to examine the neural mechanisms that may underlie this association. More than three years after 9/11/01, adults with closer proximity to the disaster had lower gray matter volume in amygdala, hippocampus, insula, anterior cingulate, and medial prefrontal cortex, with control for age, gender, and total gray matter volume. Further analysis showed a nonlinear (first-order quadratic) association between total number of traumas in lifetime and amygdala gray matter volume and function in the whole group. Post hoc analysis of subgroups with higher versus lower levels of lifetime trauma exposure revealed systematic associations between amygdala gray matter volume, amygdala functional reactivity, and anxiety that suggest a nonlinear trajectory in the neural response to accumulated trauma in healthy adults
Controlled trials provide critical tests of hypotheses generated by meta-analyses. Two recent meta-analyses have reported that gray matter volumes of schizophrenia and bipolar I patients differ in the amygdala, hippocampus, or perigenual anterior cingulate. The present magnetic resonance imaging study tested these hypotheses in a cross-sectional voxel-based morphometry (VBM) design of 17 chronic schizophrenia and 15 chronic bipolar patients and 21 healthy subjects matched for age, gender and duration of illness. Whole brain gray matter volume of both the schizophrenia and bipolar groups was smaller than among healthy control subjects. Regional voxel-wise comparisons showed that gray matter volume was smallest within frontal and temporal regions of both patient groups. Region of interest analyses found moderately large to large differences between schizophrenia and healthy subjects in the amygdala and hippocampus. There were no group differences in the perigenual anterior cingulate. When schizophrenia and bipolar groups were directly compared, the schizophrenia group showed smaller GM volumes in right subcortical regions involving the right hippocampus, putamen, and amygdala. The hippocampal and amygdala findings confirm predictions derived from recent meta-analyses. These structural abnormalities may be important factors in the differential manifestations of these two functional psychotic disorders.
Gray matter volume; magnetic resonance imaging; amygdala; hippocampus
Preliminary data suggest an association of posterior cortical gray matter reduction with poor outcome in schizophrenia. We made a systematic MRI assessment of regional gray and white matter volumes, parcellated into 40 Brodmann’s areas, in 104 patients with schizophrenia (51 with good outcomes, 53 with poor outcomes) and 41 normal comparison subjects, and investigated correlations of regional morphometry with outcome and severity of the illness. Schizophrenia patients displayed differential reductions in frontal and to a lesser degree temporal gray matter volumes in both hemispheres, most pronounced in the frontal pole and lateral temporal cortex. White matter volumes in schizophrenia patients were bilaterally increased, primarily in the frontal, parietal, and isolated temporal regions, with volume reductions confined to anterior cingulate gyrus. In patients with schizophrenia as a group, higher illness severity was associated with reduced temporal gray matter volumes and expanded frontal white matter volumes in both hemispheres. In comparison to good-outcome group, patients with poor outcomes had lower temporal, occipital, and to a lesser degree parietal gray matter volumes in both hemispheres and temporal, parietal, occipital, and posterior cingulate white matter volumes in the right hemisphere. While gray matter deficits in the granular cortex were observed in all schizophrenia patients, agranular cortical deficits in the left hemisphere were peculiar to patients with poor outcomes. These results provide support for frontotemporal gray matter reduction and frontoparietal white matter expansion in schizophrenia. Poor outcome is associated with more posterior distribution (posteriorization) of both gray and white matter changes, and with preferential impairment in the unimodal visual and paralimbic cortical regions.
Schizophrenia; Poor outcome; Gray matter; White matter; Illness severity; MRI
The amygdala's contribution to emotion, cognition and behavior depends on its interactions with subcortical and cortical regions. Amygdala lesions result in altered functional activity in connected regions, but it is not known whether there might be long-term structural sequelae as well. We hypothesized that developmental bilateral amygdala lesions would be associated with specific gray matter morphometric abnormalities in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the ventral visual stream. We conducted regions of interest and vertex-based analyses of structural MRI data acquired in two patients with long-standing focal bilateral amygdala lesions (S.M. and A.P.), compared to gender- and age-matched healthy comparison subjects. Both patients showed significant proportional increases in gray matter volume of the vmPFC. Cortical thickness was increased in the vmPFC and ACC and decreased in the ventral visual stream. There were no morphometric changes in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex or dorsal visual stream cortices. These findings support the hypothesis that cortical regions strongly connected with the amygdala undergo morphometric changes with long-standing amygdala damage. This is the first evidence in humans of the remote alteration of brain morphology in association with amygdala lesions, and will help in interpreting the structural and functional consequences of amygdala pathology in neuropsychiatric disorders.
amygdala; lesions; morphometry; plasticity; prefrontal cortex; ventromedial
Objectives: The aim of the present study was to use a voxel-based magnetic resonance imaging method to investigate the neuroanatomical characteristics in subjects at high risk of developing psychosis compared with those of healthy controls and first-episode schizophrenia patients.
Methods: This study included 14 subjects with at-risk mental state (ARMS), 34 patients with first-episode schizophrenia, and 51 healthy controls. We used voxel-based morphometry with the Diffeomorphic Anatomical Registration through Exponentiated Lie Algebra tools to investigate the whole-brain difference in gray matter volume among the three groups.
Results: Compared with the healthy controls, the schizophrenia patients showed significant gray matter reduction in the left anterior cingulate gyrus. There was no significant difference in the gray matter volume between the ARMS and other groups.
Conclusion: The present study suggests that alteration of the anterior cingulate gyrus may be associated with development of frank psychosis. Further studies with a larger ARMS subjects would be required to examine the potential role of neuroimaging methods in the prediction of future transition into psychosis.
schizophrenia; psychosis; high risk; MRI; cingulate gyrus
Previous studies have reported gray matter alterations in patients with migraine, particularly thinning of the cingulate gyrus, and thickening of the somatosensory cortex (SSC) and visual motion processing areas (V3A/MT+). We attempted to replicate these findings in a larger patient population.
Brain anatomy was collected with 3T MRI. Surface-based morphometry was used to segment each brain volume, reconstruct and inflate the cortical sheet, and estimate gray matter thickness.
Eighty-four age and sex-matched participants (28 migraine with aura, 28 migraine without aura, and 28 controls) were studied. No significant differences in somatosensory, cingulate gyrus, or V3A/MT+ cortical thickness were found between the groups, including analysis of specific subregions previously reported to be affected. Whole brain analysis found no regions of differential gray matter thickness between groups. A highly significant inverse correlation between age and whole brain and regional cortical thickness was identified. Power analyses indicate that even a small difference (~0.07 to 0.14 mm) in cortical thickness could have been detected between groups given the sample size.
Using highly sensitive surface-based morphometry, no differences in cortical thickness between patients with migraine and controls could be identified.
Migraine; morphometry; cortical thickness; brain structure
Although schizophrenia is characterized by gray matter (GM) abnormalities, particularly in the prefrontal and temporal cortices, it is unclear whether cerebral cortical GM is abnormal in individuals at ultra-high-risk (UHR) for psychosis. We addressed this issue by studying cortical thickness in this group with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We measured cortical thickness of 29 individuals with no family history of psychosis at UHR, 31 patients with schizophrenia, and 29 healthy matched control subjects using automated surface-based analysis of structural MRI data. Hemispheric mean and regional cortical thickness were significantly different according to the stage of the disease. Significant cortical differences across these 3 groups were found in the distributed area of cerebral cortices. UHR group showed significant cortical thinning in the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, inferior parietal cortex, parahippocampal cortex, and superior temporal gyrus compared with healthy control subjects. Significant cortical thinning in schizophrenia group relative to UHR group was found in all the regions described above in addition with posterior cingulate cortex, insular cortex, and precentral cortex. These changes were more pronounced in the schizophrenia group compared with the control subjects. These findings suggest that UHR is associated with cortical thinning in regions that correspond to the structural abnormalities found in schizophrenia. These structural abnormalities might reflect functional decline at the prodromal stage of schizophrenia, and there may be progressive thinning of GM cortex over time.
MRI; gray matter; cortical thinning; surface-based analysis
The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of type 2 diabetes with major depression on cortical gray matter using magnetic resonance imaging and cortical pattern matching techniques. We hypothesized that diabetic subjects and depressed diabetic subjects would demonstrate decreased cortical gray matter thickness in prefrontal areas as compared to healthy control subjects.
Patients with type 2 diabetes (n=26) and patients diabetes and major depression (n=26) were compared with healthy controls (n=20). Gray matter thickness across the entire cortex was measured using cortical pattern matching methods.
All subjects with diabetes demonstrated decreased cortical gray matter thickness in the left anterior cingulate region. Additionally, depressed diabetic subjects showed significant cortical gray matter decreases in bilateral prefrontal areas compared with healthy controls. Correlations between clinical variables and cortical gray matter thickness revealed a significant negative relationship with cerebrovascular risk factors across all three groups, most consistently in the left dorsomedial prefrontal cortex. A significant positive relationship between performance on attention and executive function tasks and cortical gray matter thickness predominately in left hemisphere regions was also seen across all subjects.
Depression and diabetes are associated with significant cortical gray matter thinning in medial prefrontal areas.
MRI; neurocogntion; neuroanatomy; mood; diabetes
Substantial differences exist in the cognitive styles of liberals and conservatives on psychological measures . Variability in political attitudes reflects genetic influences and their interaction with environmental factors [2, 3]. Recent work has shown a correlation between liberalism and conflict-related activity measured by event-related potentials originating in the anterior cingulate cortex . Here we show that this functional correlate of political attitudes has a counterpart in brain structure. In a large sample of young adults, we related self-reported political attitudes to gray matter volume using structural MRI. We found that greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, whereas greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala. These results were replicated in an independent sample of additional participants. Our findings extend previous observations that political attitudes reflect differences in self-regulatory conflict monitoring  and recognition of emotional faces  by showing that such attitudes are reflected in human brain structure. Although our data do not determine whether these regions play a causal role in the formation of political attitudes, they converge with previous work [4, 6] to suggest a possible link between brain structure and psychological mechanisms that mediate political attitudes.
► Political liberalism and conservatism were correlated with brain structure ► Liberalism was associated with the gray matter volume of anterior cingulate cortex ► Conservatism was associated with increased right amygdala size ► Results offer possible accounts for cognitive styles of liberals and conservatives
Previous brain imaging studies have reported that Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is characterized by decreased volumes of several cortical and subcortical structures, including the hippocampus, amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex, and caudate nucleus. The purpose of the present study was to identify structural volumetric differences between MDD and healthy participants using a method that allows a comparison of gray and white matter volume across the whole brain. In addition, we explored the relation between symptom severity and brain regions with decreased volumes in MDD participants. Twenty-two women diagnosed with MDD and 25 healthy women with no history of major psychiatric disorders participated in this study. Magnetic resonance brain images were analyzed using optimized voxel-based morphometry to examine group differences in regional gray and white matter volume. Compared with healthy controls, MDD participants were found to have decreased gray matter volume in the bilateral caudate nucleus and the thalamus. No group differences were found for white matter volume, nor were there significant correlations between gray matter volumes and symptom severity within the MDD group. The present results suggest that smaller volume of caudate nucleus may be related to the pathophysiology of MDD and may account for abnormalities of the cortico-striatal-pallido-thalamic loop in MDD.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD); magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); voxel-based morphometry (VBM); caudate; depression; brain
Previous magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies described consistent age-related gray matter (GM) reductions in the fronto-parietal neocortex, insula and cerebellum in elderly subjects, but not as frequently in limbic/paralimbic structures. However, it is unclear whether such features are already present during earlier stages of adulthood, and if age-related GM changes may follow non-linear patterns at such age range. This voxel-based morphometry study investigated the relationship between GM volumes and age specifically during non-elderly life (18–50 years) in 89 healthy individuals (48 males and 41 females). Voxelwise analyses showed significant (p < 0.05, corrected) negative correlations in the right prefrontal cortex and left cerebellum, and positive correlations (indicating lack of GM loss) in the medial temporal region, cingulate gyrus, insula and temporal neocortex. Analyses using ROI masks showed that age-related dorsolateral prefrontal volume decrements followed non-linear patterns, and were less prominent in females compared to males at this age range. These findings further support for the notion of a heterogeneous and asynchronous pattern of age-related brain morphometric changes, with region-specific non-linear features.
Prefrontal cortex; Insula; Limbic system; Gray matter; Aging; Gender; Voxel-based morphometry; Magnetic resonance imaging
Results on grey matter (GM) structural alterations in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are inconclusive. Moreover, little is known about age effects on brain-structure abnormalities in ASD beyond childhood. Here, we aimed to examine regional GM volumes in a large sample of children, adolescents, and adults with ASD. Magnetic resonance imaging scans were obtained in 47 male ASD subjects and 51 matched healthy controls aged 8–50 years. We used whole-brain voxel-based morphometry to first assess group differences in regional GM volume across age. Moreover, taking a cross-sectional approach, group differences in age effects on regional GM volume were investigated. Compared to controls, ASD subjects showed reduced GM volumes in the anterior cingulate cortex, posterior superior temporal sulcus, and middle temporal gyrus. Investigation of group differences in age effects on regional GM volume revealed complex, region-specific alterations in ASD. While GM volumes in the amygdala, temporoparietal junction, septal nucleus and middle cingulate cortex increased in a negative quadratic fashion in both groups, data indicated that GM volume curves in ASD subjects were shifted to the left along the age axis. Moreover, while GM volume in the right precentral gyrus decreased linearly with age in ASD individuals, GM volume development in controls followed a U-shaped pattern. Based on a large sample, our voxel-based morphometry results on group differences in regional GM volumes help to resolve inconclusive findings from previous studies in ASD. Results on age-related changes of regional GM volumes suggest that ASD is characterized by complex alterations in lifetime trajectories of several brain regions that underpin social-cognitive and motor functions.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00429-012-0439-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Brain development; MRI; Voxel-based morphometry; Grey matter; Autism spectrum disorder
Tourette syndrome is a childhood-onset neuropsychiatric disorder with a high prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity and obsessive-compulsive disorder co-morbidities. Structural changes have been found in frontal cortex and striatum in children and adolescents. A limited number of morphometric studies in Tourette syndrome persisting into adulthood suggest ongoing structural alterations affecting frontostriatal circuits. Using cortical thickness estimation and voxel-based analysis of T1- and diffusion-weighted structural magnetic resonance images, we examined 40 adults with Tourette syndrome in comparison with 40 age- and gender-matched healthy controls. Patients with Tourette syndrome showed relative grey matter volume reduction in orbitofrontal, anterior cingulate and ventrolateral prefrontal cortices bilaterally. Cortical thinning extended into the limbic mesial temporal lobe. The grey matter changes were modulated additionally by the presence of co-morbidities and symptom severity. Prefrontal cortical thickness reduction correlated negatively with tic severity, while volume increase in primary somatosensory cortex depended on the intensity of premonitory sensations. Orbitofrontal cortex volume changes were further associated with abnormal water diffusivity within grey matter. White matter analysis revealed changes in fibre coherence in patients with Tourette syndrome within anterior parts of the corpus callosum. The severity of motor tics and premonitory urges had an impact on the integrity of tracts corresponding to cortico-cortical and cortico-subcortical connections. Our results provide empirical support for a patho-aetiological model of Tourette syndrome based on developmental abnormalities, with perturbation of compensatory systems marking persistence of symptoms into adulthood. We interpret the symptom severity related grey matter volume increase in distinct functional brain areas as evidence of ongoing structural plasticity. The convergence of evidence from volume and water diffusivity imaging strengthens the validity of our findings and attests to the value of a novel multimodal combination of volume and cortical thickness estimations that provides unique and complementary information by exploiting their differential sensitivity to structural change.
Tourette syndrome; voxel-based cortical thickness; voxel-based morphometry; mean diffusivity; fractional anisotropy
The subgenual cingulate (SGC) cortex has been implicated in the pathophysiology of mood disorders. We sought to study morphometric characteristics of the SGC in pediatric subjects with familial bipolar disorder (BD) compared with healthy controls.
Twenty children and adolescents with BD (mean age = 14.6 years, 4 females) and 20 healthy age-, gender-, and intelligence quotient-matched controls underwent high-resolution anatomical magnetic resonance imaging. Patients were primarily euthymic and most were taking medications. SGC cortex volumes were determined by manual tracings from a reliable rater, blinded to diagnosis. Analyses of covariance were performed with total cerebral gray matter and age as covariates.
No differences were found in SGC volumes between BD subjects and healthy controls. Further analysis revealed that BD subjects with past mood stabilizer exposure had significantly increased SGC volumes compared with BD subjects without mood stabilizer exposure, and compared with controls. The increase was driven by larger bilateral posterior SGC volumes.
Youth with familial BD do not appear to have abnormalities in SGC volume. Mood stabilizer exposure, however, may be correlated with increases in SGC volume.
The aim of this study was to determine if there were focal cortical abnormalities in juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) using neuropsychological investigations and MRI.
Twenty-eight patients with JME and a large sample of healthy controls were assessed using a series of neuropsychological tests as well as structural and diffusion tensor MRI (DTI). DTI measures assessed fractional anisotropy (FA) within a white matter skeleton.
Neuropsychological testing indicated subtle dysfunctions in verbal fluency, comprehension, and expression, as well as nonverbal memory and mental flexibility. Utilizing whole-brain voxel-based morphometry for gray matter MRI data and tract-based spatial statistics for white matter diffusion MRI data, we found reductions in gray matter volume (GMV) in the supplementary motor area and posterior cingulate cortex and reductions in FA in underlying white matter of the corpus callosum. Supplementary motor area FA predicted scores in word naming tasks and expression scores. Posterior cingulate cortex GMV and FA predicted cognitive inhibition scores on the mental flexibility task.
The neuropsychological, structural, and tractography results implicate mesial frontal cortex, especially the supplementary motor area, and posterior cingulate cortex in JME.
Models of addiction include abnormalities in parts of the brain involving executive function/inhibitory control. Although previous studies have reported evidence of structural abnormalities in cocaine-dependent individuals, none have specifically targeted the homeless. The present preliminary study investigated brain structure in such an understudied
group, homeless, crack-cocaine-dependent African American men (n = 9), comparing it to that in healthy controls (n = 8). Structural data were analyzed using voxel based morphometry (VBM) and a regions of interest (ROI) analysis. Homeless cocaine-dependent individuals had smaller gray matter volume in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate, the cerebellum, insula, and superior temporal gyrus. Most of these areas subserve executive function or inhibitory control.
These results are similar to those found in most previous studies of non-homeless cocaine-dependent individuals. Reduced gray matter in executive function/inhibitory control regions of the brain in cocaine-dependent individuals may be a preexisting risk factor for the development of addiction and/or a consequence of drug abuse.
Addiction; VBM; executive function; inhibitory control.
The ‘default network’ is defined as a set of areas, encompassing posterior-cingulate/precuneus, anterior cingulate/mesiofrontal cortex and temporo-parietal junctions, that show more activity at rest than during attention-demanding tasks. Recent studies have shown that it is possible to reliably identify this network in the absence of any task, by resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging connectivity analyses in healthy volunteers. However, the functional significance of these spontaneous brain activity fluctuations remains unclear. The aim of this study was to test if the integrity of this resting-state connectivity pattern in the default network would differ in different pathological alterations of consciousness. Fourteen non-communicative brain-damaged patients and 14 healthy controls participated in the study. Connectivity was investigated using probabilistic independent component analysis, and an automated template-matching component selection approach. Connectivity in all default network areas was found to be negatively correlated with the degree of clinical consciousness impairment, ranging from healthy controls and locked-in syndrome to minimally conscious, vegetative then coma patients. Furthermore, precuneus connectivity was found to be significantly stronger in minimally conscious patients as compared with unconscious patients. Locked-in syndrome patient’s default network connectivity was not significantly different from controls. Our results show that default network connectivity is decreased in severely brain-damaged patients, in proportion to their degree of consciousness impairment. Future prospective studies in a larger patient population are needed in order to evaluate the prognostic value of the presented methodology.
Default mode; fMRI; coma; vegetative state; minimally conscious state
Background & Aims
Several studies have examined structural brain changes associated with chronic pain syndromes, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but study sample sizes have been small and heterogeneous.
We used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based techniques, voxel-based morphometry, and cortical thickness analysis, to examine brain anatomical differences in a relatively large, tightly screened sample of IBS patients (n=55); we compared data with that from healthy individuals (controls, n=48).
IBS was associated with decreased gray matter density (GMD) in widespread areas of the brain, including medial prefrontal and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, posterior parietal cortex, ventral striatum, and thalamus. Compared with controls, we observed increased GMD in patients with IBS in the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex and the orbitofrontal cortex, as well as trends in the posterior insula/secondary somatosensory cortex, (para)hippocampus, and left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. In accounting for anxiety and depression, we found that several of the regions involved in affective processing no longer differed between patients with IBS and controls, whereas the differences in prefrontal and posterior parietal cortices remained. The areas of decreased GMD associated with IBS were largely consistent across clinical subgroups, based on predominant bowel habit and pain predominance of symptoms. There were no overall or regional differences in cortical thickness between patients with IBS and controls.
Changes in density of gray matter among regions involved in cognitive/evaluative functions are specifically observed in patients with IBS, whereas changes in other areas of the brain can be accounted for explained by levels of anxiety and depression.
neuroimaging; VBM; neural; visceral
There are increasing reports of cognitive and psychological declines related to occupational stress in subjects without psychiatric premorbidity or major life trauma. The underlying neurobiology is unknown, and many question the notion that the described disabilities represent a medical condition. Using PET we recently found that persons suffering from chronic occupational stress had limbic reductions in the 5-HT1A receptor binding potential. Here we examine whether chronic work-related stress is also associated with changes in brain structure. We performed MRI-based voxel-based morphometry and structural volumetry in stressed subjects and unstressed controls focusing on gray (GM) and white matter (WM) volumes, and the volumes of hippocampus, caudate, and putamen – structures known to be susceptible to neurotoxic changes. Stressed subjects exhibited significant reductions in the GM volumes of the anterior cingulate cortex and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Furthermore, their caudate and putamen volumes were reduced, and the volumes correlated inversely to the degree of perceived stress. Our results add to previous data on chronic psychosocial stress, and indicate a morphological involvement of the frontostriatal circuits. The present findings of morphological changes in these regions confirm our previous conclusion that symptoms from occupational stress merit careful investigations and targeted treatment.
Schizophrenia patients and their relatives show aberrant functional connectivity in default network regions (DRs) such as the medial prefrontal, lateral temporal, cingulate and inferior parietal cortices and executive regions such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Gray-matter volumetric alterations may be related to these functional connectivity deficits. Also, gray-matter volume inter-regional correlations may reflect altered inter-regional functional connectivity.
To examine our prediction of alterations of gray-matter volumes and inter-regional volume correlations for DRs and the DLPFC in offspring of schizophrenia patients (OS).
We assessed 64 adolescent and young adult OS and 80 healthy controls (HC) using T1-MRI. Regional gray-matter volumes and inter-regional volume correlations between the DRs and between the DLPFC and DRs on each side were compared across groups.
Compared to HC, OS had reductions in several DRs and the DLPFC after controlling age, gender, and intra-cranial volume, and correcting for multiple comparisons. OS had stronger (more positive) gray-matter volume inter-correlations between DRs and between DRs and the DLPFC.
Volumetric deficits in the default network and in the DLPFC may be related to familial diathesis to schizophrenia and to functional connectivity abnormalities in those at familial risk. Increased inter-correlations between DRs and between DR and DLPFC gray-matter volumes may serve as surrogate indices of abnormal functional connectivity.
Default network; Dorso lateral prefrontal cortex; Inter-regional correlations; Functional connectivity
Neuroimaging studies have identified alterations in frontostriatal circuitry in OCD. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) allows for the assessment of differences in gray matter density across the whole brain. VBM has not previously been used to examine regional gray matter density in pediatric OCD patients and the siblings of pediatric OCD patients. Volumetric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies were conducted in 10 psychotropic-naïve pediatric patients with OCD, 10 unaffected siblings of pediatric patients with OCD, and 10 healthy controls. VBM analysis was conducted using SPM2. Statistical comparisons were performed with the general linear model, implementing small volume random field corrections for a priori regions of interest (anterior cingulate cortex or ACC, striatum and thalamus). VBM analysis revealed significantly lower gray matter density in OCD patients compared to healthy in the left ACC and bilateral medial superior frontal gyrus (SFG). Furthermore, a small volume correction was used to identify a significantly greater gray matter density in the right putamen in OCD patients as compared to unaffected siblings of OCD patients. These findings in patients, siblings, and healthy controls, although preliminary, suggest the presence of gray matter structural differences between affected subjects and healthy controls as well as between affected subjects and individuals at risk for OCD.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD); pediatric; high-risk; neuroimaging; siblings; voxel-based morphometry (VBM)
Previous magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings have demonstrated psychopathological symptom–related smaller gray matter volumes in various cingulate gyrus subregions in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. However, it is unclear whether these gray matter abnormalities show a subregional specificity to either disorder and whether they show postonset progression.
To determine whether there are initial and progressive gray matter volume deficits in cingulate gyrus subregions in patients with first-episode schizophrenia (FESZ) and patients with first-episode affective psychosis (FEAFF, mainly manic) and their specificity to FESZ or FEAFF.
A naturalistic cross-sectional study at first hospitalization for psychosis and a longitudinal follow-up approximately 1½ years later.
Setting and Participants
Patients were from a private psychiatric hospital. Thirty-nine patients with FESZ and 41 with FEAFF at first hospitalization for psychosis and 40 healthy control subjects (HCs) recruited from the community underwent high-spatial-resolution MRI, with follow-up scans in 17 FESZ patients, 18 FEAFF patients, and 18 HCs. Individual subjects were matched for age, sex, parental socioeconomic status, and handedness.
Main Outcome Measures
Cingulate gyrus gray matter volumes in 3 anterior subregions (subgenual, affective, and cognitive) and 1 posterior subregion, and whether there was a paracingulate sulcus.
At first hospitalization, patients with FESZ showed significantly smaller left subgenual (P=.03), left (P=.03) and right (P=.005) affective, right cognitive (P=.04), and right posterior (P=.003) cingulate gyrus gray matter sub-regions compared with HCs. Moreover, at the 1½-year follow-up, patients with FESZ showed progressive gray matter volume decreases in the subgenual (P=.002), affective (P<.001), cognitive (P<.001), and posterior (P=.02) cingulate subregions compared with HCs. In contrast, patients with FEAFF showed only initial (left, P<.001; right, P=.002) and progressive subgenual subregion abnormalities (P<.001). Finally, patients with FESZ showed a less asymmetric paracingulate pattern than HCs (P=.02).
Patients with FEAFF and FESZ showed differences in initial gray matter volumes and in their progression. Initial and progressive changes in patients with FEAFF were confined to the subgenual cingulate, a region strongly associated with affective disorder, whereas patients with FESZ evinced widespread initial and progressively smaller volumes.
Liberals and conservatives exhibit different cognitive styles and converging lines of evidence suggest that biology influences differences in their political attitudes and beliefs. In particular, a recent study of young adults suggests that liberals and conservatives have significantly different brain structure, with liberals showing increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, and conservatives showing increased gray matter volume in the in the amygdala. Here, we explore differences in brain function in liberals and conservatives by matching publicly-available voter records to 82 subjects who performed a risk-taking task during functional imaging. Although the risk-taking behavior of Democrats (liberals) and Republicans (conservatives) did not differ, their brain activity did. Democrats showed significantly greater activity in the left insula, while Republicans showed significantly greater activity in the right amygdala. In fact, a two parameter model of partisanship based on amygdala and insula activations yields a better fitting model of partisanship than a well-established model based on parental socialization of party identification long thought to be one of the core findings of political science. These results suggest that liberals and conservatives engage different cognitive processes when they think about risk, and they support recent evidence that conservatives show greater sensitivity to threatening stimuli.