Search tips
Search criteria

Results 1-25 (26)

Clipboard (0)

Select a Filter Below

more »
Year of Publication
Document Types
author:("von, Valerie")
1.  You Turn Me Cold: Evidence for Temperature Contagion 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e116126.
During social interactions, our own physiological responses influence those of others. Synchronization of physiological (and behavioural) responses can facilitate emotional understanding and group coherence through inter-subjectivity. Here we investigate if observing cues indicating a change in another's body temperature results in a corresponding temperature change in the observer.
Thirty-six healthy participants (age; 22.9±3.1 yrs) each observed, then rated, eight purpose-made videos (3 min duration) that depicted actors with either their right or left hand in visibly warm (warm videos) or cold water (cold videos). Four control videos with the actors' hand in front of the water were also shown. Temperature of participant observers' right and left hands was concurrently measured using a thermistor within a Wheatstone bridge with a theoretical temperature sensitivity of <0.0001°C. Temperature data were analysed in a repeated measures ANOVA (temperature × actor's hand × observer's hand).
Participants rated the videos showing hands immersed in cold water as being significantly cooler than hands immersed in warm water, F(1,34) = 256.67, p<0.001. Participants' own hands also showed a significant temperature-dependent effect: hands were significantly colder when observing cold vs. warm videos F(1,34) = 13.83, p = 0.001 with post-hoc t-test demonstrating a significant reduction in participants' own left (t(35) = −3.54, p = 0.001) and right (t(35) = −2.33, p = 0.026) hand temperature during observation of cold videos but no change to warm videos (p>0.1). There was however no evidence of left-right mirroring of these temperature effects p>0.1). Sensitivity to temperature contagion was also predicted by inter-individual differences in self-report empathy.
We illustrate physiological contagion of temperature in healthy individuals, suggesting that empathetic understanding for primary low-level physiological challenges (as well as more complex emotions) are grounded in somatic simulation.
PMCID: PMC4281213  PMID: 25551826
2.  Neuronal Correlates of Risk-Seeking Attitudes to Anticipated Losses in Binge Drinkers 
Biological Psychiatry  2014;76(9):717-724.
Abnormal decision making under risk is associated with a number of psychiatric disorders. Here, we focus on binge drinkers (BD), characterized by repeated episodes of heavy alcohol intoxication. Previous studies suggest a decreased sensitivity to aversive conditioning in BD. Here, we asked whether BD might be characterized by enhanced risk seeking related to decreased sensitivity to the anticipation of negative outcomes.
Using an anticipatory risk-taking task (40 BD and 70 healthy volunteers) and an adapted version of this task for functional magnetic resonance imaging (21 BD and 21 healthy volunteers), we assessed sensitivity to reward and loss across risk probabilities.
In the behavioral task, BD showed a higher number of risky choices in high-risk losses. In the neuroimaging task, the high-risk attitude in the loss condition was associated with greater activity in dorsolateral prefrontal, lateral orbitofrontal, and superior parietal cortices in BD. Explicit exposure of BD to the probability and magnitude of loss, via introduction of feedback, resulted in a subsequent decrease in risky choices. This change in risk attitude in BD was associated with greater activity in inferior frontal gyrus, which also correlated with the percentage of decrease in risky choices after feedback presentation, suggesting a possible role for cognitive control toward risk-seeking attitudes.
Our findings suggest that a decrease in sensitivity to the anticipation of high-risk negative outcomes might underlie BD behavior. Presentation of explicit feedback of probability and loss in BD can potentially modify risk-taking attitudes, which have important public health implications and suggest possible therapeutic targets.
PMCID: PMC4192134  PMID: 24387822
Binge drinking; feedback sensitivity; functional MRI; loss anticipation; risk-seeking behavior
3.  Models of Impulsivity with a Focus on Waiting Impulsivity: Translational Potential for Neuropsychiatric Disorders 
Current Addiction Reports  2014;1(4):281-288.
Waiting impulsivity, also known as premature or anticipatory responding, is well established in preclinical studies through the 5-Choice Serial Reaction Time (5-CSRT) task. Waiting impulsivity is important in disorders of addiction. Preclinical studies suggest a role both as a predictor, and as a consequence, in disorders of addiction. Here we discuss the relationship between the preclinical 5-CSRT and translational fidelity in newly developed translational tasks. Preclinical and clinical literature relevant to premature responding and disorders of addiction are reviewed. Understanding which processes are critical to premature responding is important in understanding the nature of premature responding. Premature responding may also have overlaps with motivational processes, proactive response inhibition, tonic inhibitory processes, and delay discounting.
PMCID: PMC4201744  PMID: 25346881
Waiting impulsivity; Premature responding; Impulsivity; Addiction; 5-CSRT
4.  Peripheral Inflammation Acutely Impairs Human Spatial Memory via Actions on Medial Temporal Lobe Glucose Metabolism 
Biological Psychiatry  2014;76(7):585-593.
Inflammation impairs cognitive performance and is implicated in the progression of neurodegenerative disorders. Rodent studies demonstrated key roles for inflammatory mediators in many processes critical to memory, including long-term potentiation, synaptic plasticity, and neurogenesis. They also demonstrated functional impairment of medial temporal lobe (MTL) structures by systemic inflammation. However, human data to support this position are limited.
Sequential fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography together with experimentally induced inflammation was used to investigate effects of a systemic inflammatory challenge on human MTL function. Fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography scanning was performed in 20 healthy participants before and after typhoid vaccination and saline control injection. After each scanning session, participants performed a virtual reality spatial memory task analogous to the Morris water maze and a mirror-tracing procedural memory control task.
Fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography data demonstrated an acute reduction in human MTL glucose metabolism after inflammation. The inflammatory challenge also selectively compromised human spatial, but not procedural, memory; this effect that was independent of actions on motivation or psychomotor response. Effects of inflammation on parahippocampal and rhinal glucose metabolism directly mediated actions of inflammation on spatial memory.
These data demonstrate acute sensitivity of human MTL to mild peripheral inflammation, giving rise to associated functional impairment in the form of reduced spatial memory performance. Our findings suggest a mechanism for the observed epidemiologic link between inflammation and risk of age-related cognitive decline and progression of neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s disease.
PMCID: PMC4166523  PMID: 24534013
Alzheimer’s disease; imaging; inflammation; memory; parahippocampus; PET
5.  Enhanced Attentional Bias towards Sexually Explicit Cues in Individuals with and without Compulsive Sexual Behaviours 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105476.
Compulsive sexual behaviour (CSB) is relatively common and has been associated with significant distress and psychosocial impairments. CSB has been conceptualized as either an impulse control disorder or a non-substance ‘behavioural’ addiction. Substance use disorders are commonly associated with attentional biases to drug cues which are believed to reflect processes of incentive salience. Here we assess male CSB subjects compared to age-matched male healthy controls using a dot probe task to assess attentional bias to sexually explicit cues. We show that compared to healthy volunteers, CSB subjects have enhanced attentional bias to explicit cues but not neutral cues particularly for early stimuli latency. Our findings suggest enhanced attentional bias to explicit cues possibly related to an early orienting attentional response. This finding dovetails with our recent observation that sexually explicit videos were associated with greater activity in a neural network similar to that observed in drug-cue-reactivity studies. Greater desire or wanting rather than liking was further associated with activity in this neural network. These studies together provide support for an incentive motivation theory of addiction underlying the aberrant response towards sexual cues in CSB.
PMCID: PMC4143289  PMID: 25153083
6.  Response Inhibition in Motor Conversion Disorder 
Conversion disorders (CDs) are unexplained neurological symptoms presumed to be related to a psychological issue. Studies focusing on conversion paralysis have suggested potential impairments in motor initiation or execution. Here we studied CD patients with aberrant or excessive motor movements and focused on motor response inhibition. We also assessed cognitive measures in multiple domains. We compared 30 CD patients and 30 age-, sex-, and education-matched healthy volunteers on a motor response inhibition task (go/no go), along with verbal motor response inhibition (color-word interference) and measures of attention, sustained attention, processing speed, language, memory, visuospatial processing, and executive function including planning and verbal fluency. CD patients had greater impairments in commission errors on the go/no go task (P <.001) compared with healthy volunteers, which remained significant after Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons and after controlling for attention, sustained attention, depression, and anxiety. There were no significant differences in other cognitive measures. We highlight a specific deficit in motor response inhibition that may play a role in impaired inhibition of unwanted movement such as the excessive and aberrant movements seen in motor conversion. Patients with nonepileptic seizures, a different form of conversion disorder, are commonly reported to have lower IQ and multiple cognitive deficits. Our results point toward potential differences between conversion disorder subgroups.
PMCID: PMC4096145  PMID: 23554084
conversion disorder; psychogenic movement disorder; response inhibition; IQ; cognition
7.  Neural Correlates of Sexual Cue Reactivity in Individuals with and without Compulsive Sexual Behaviours 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102419.
Although compulsive sexual behaviour (CSB) has been conceptualized as a “behavioural” addiction and common or overlapping neural circuits may govern the processing of natural and drug rewards, little is known regarding the responses to sexually explicit materials in individuals with and without CSB. Here, the processing of cues of varying sexual content was assessed in individuals with and without CSB, focusing on neural regions identified in prior studies of drug-cue reactivity. 19 CSB subjects and 19 healthy volunteers were assessed using functional MRI comparing sexually explicit videos with non-sexual exciting videos. Ratings of sexual desire and liking were obtained. Relative to healthy volunteers, CSB subjects had greater desire but similar liking scores in response to the sexually explicit videos. Exposure to sexually explicit cues in CSB compared to non-CSB subjects was associated with activation of the dorsal anterior cingulate, ventral striatum and amygdala. Functional connectivity of the dorsal anterior cingulate-ventral striatum-amygdala network was associated with subjective sexual desire (but not liking) to a greater degree in CSB relative to non-CSB subjects. The dissociation between desire or wanting and liking is consistent with theories of incentive motivation underlying CSB as in drug addictions. Neural differences in the processing of sexual-cue reactivity were identified in CSB subjects in regions previously implicated in drug-cue reactivity studies. The greater engagement of corticostriatal limbic circuitry in CSB following exposure to sexual cues suggests neural mechanisms underlying CSB and potential biological targets for interventions.
PMCID: PMC4094516  PMID: 25013940
8.  Psychiatric Symptoms Associated with Focal Hand Dystonia 
Myoclonus dystonia and idiopathic dystonia are associated with a greater frequency of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and major depression. We investigated the frequency of OCD in 39 patients with primary focal hand dystonia (FHD) using a semistructured interview. OCD and subsyndromal OCD was diagnosed in 5 of 39 (12.82%) patients with FHD, whereas OCD occurs in 2.3% of the general population. Recurrent depression occurred in (7 of 39) 17.95% of patients with FHD along with a family history of depression in (16 of 39) 41.02%. Overlapping mechanisms manifesting as FHD may also predispose to OC symptoms and likely implicates a common striatal dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC4082988  PMID: 20737548
obsessive compulsive disorder; depression; dystonia; striatum; obsession; compulsion
9.  Action-effect binding is decreased in motor conversion disorder: implications for sense of agency 
The abnormal movements seen in motor conversion disorder are affected by distraction and entrainment, similar to voluntary movement. Unlike voluntary movement, however, patients lack a sense of control for the abnormal movements, a failure of “self-agency.” The action-effect binding paradigm has been used to quantify the sense of self-agency, because subjective contraction of time between an action and its effect only occurs if the subject feels that they are the agent responsible for the action. We used this paradigm, coupled with emotional stimuli, to investigate the sense of agency with voluntary movements in patients with motor conversion disorder.
Twenty patients with motor conversion disorder and 20 age- and gender-matched healthy volunteers used a rotating clock to judge the time of their own voluntary keypresses (action) and a subsequent auditory tone (effect), after completing conditioning blocks in which high, medium and low tones were coupled to images of happy, fearful and neutral faces.
The results replicate those shown previously: an effect following a voluntary action was reported as occurring earlier, and the preceding action later, compared to trials of only keypresses or tones. Patients had reduced overall binding scores relative to healthy volunteers, suggesting a reduced sense of agency. There was no effect of the emotional stimuli (faces) or other interaction effects. Healthy volunteers with subclinical depressive symptoms had higher overall binding scores.
We show that motor conversion disorder patients have decreased action-effect binding for normal voluntary movements compared to healthy volunteers, consistent with the greater experience of lack of control.
PMCID: PMC3701023  PMID: 23494975
agency; action-effect binding; conversion disorder; psychogenic movement disorder; forward model
10.  Psychopathology and Psychogenic Movement Disorders 
Psychogenic movement disorder is defined as abnormal movements unrelated to a medical cause and presumed related to underlying psychological factors. Although psychological factors are of both clinical and pathophysiological relevance, very few studies to date have systematically assessed their role in psychogenic movement disorder. We sought to assess the role of previous life stress using validated quantitative measures in patients with psychogenic movement disorder compared with age- and sex-matched healthy volunteers as well as a convenience sample of patients with focal hand dystonia. Sixty-four patients with psychogenic movement disorder (72% female; mean age, 45.2 years [standard deviation, 15.2 years]), 38 healthy volunteers (74% female; mean age, 49 years [standard deviation, 13.7 years]), and 39 patients with focal hand dystonia (37% female; mean age, 48.7 years [standard deviation, 11.7 years]) were evaluated using a standardized psychological interview as well as validated quantitative scales to assess trauma and previous stressors, depression, anxiety, and personality traits. Patients with psychogenic movement disorder reported higher rates of childhood trauma, specifically greater emotional abuse and physical neglect, greater fear associated with traumatic events, and a greater number of traumatic episodes compared with healthy volunteers and patients with focal hand dystonia controlled for depressive symptoms and sex (Bonferroni corrected P < .005). There were no differences in categorical psychiatric diagnoses or scores on childhood physical or sexual abuse subscales, personality traits, or the dissociative experience scale. Our findings highlight a biopsychosocial approach toward the pathophysiology of psychogenic movement disorder, although the association with psychological issues is much less prominent than expected compared with the nonepileptic seizure population. A careful psychological assessment is indicated to optimize therapeutic modalities.
PMCID: PMC4049464  PMID: 21714007
dystonia; movement disorders; psychogenic; psychological measures; trauma
11.  Enhanced Avoidance Habits in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder 
Biological Psychiatry  2014;75(8):631-638.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a psychiatric condition that typically manifests in compulsive urges to perform irrational or excessive avoidance behaviors. A recent account has suggested that compulsivity in OCD might arise from excessive stimulus-response habit formation, rendering behavior insensitive to goal value. We tested if OCD patients have a bias toward habits using a novel shock avoidance task. To explore how habits, as a putative model of compulsivity, might relate to obsessions and anxiety, we recorded measures of contingency knowledge, explicit fear, and physiological arousal.
Twenty-five OCD patients and 25 control subjects completed a shock avoidance task designed to induce habits through overtraining, which were identified using goal-devaluation. The relationship between habitual behavior, erroneous cognitions, and physiological arousal was assessed using behavior, questionnaires, subjective report, and skin conductance responses.
A devaluation sensitivity test revealed that both groups could inhibit unnecessary behavioral responses before overtraining. Following overtraining, OCD patients showed greater avoidance habits than control subjects. Groups did not differ in conditioned arousal (skin conductance responses) at any stage. Additionally, groups did not differ in contingency knowledge or explicit ratings of shock expectancy following the habit test. Habit responses were associated with a subjective urge to respond.
These data indicate that OCD patients have a tendency to develop excessive avoidance habits, providing support for a habit account of OCD. Future research is needed to fully characterize the causal role of physiological arousal and explicit fear in habit formation in OCD.
PMCID: PMC3988923  PMID: 23510580
Avoidance; cognitive neuroscience; goal-directed learning; habit; obsessive-compulsive disorder; psychophysiology
12.  Gamma Aminobutyric Acidergic and Neuronal Structural Markers in the Nucleus Accumbens Core Underlie Trait-like Impulsive Behavior 
Biological Psychiatry  2014;75(2):115-123.
Pathological forms of impulsivity are manifest in a number of psychiatric disorders listed in DSM-5, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and substance use disorder. However, the molecular and cellular substrates of impulsivity are poorly understood. Here, we investigated a specific form of motor impulsivity in rats, namely premature responding, on a five-choice serial reaction time task.
We used in vivo voxel-based magnetic resonance imaging and ex vivo Western blot analyses to investigate putative structural, neuronal, and glial protein markers in low-impulsive (LI) and high-impulsive rats. We also investigated whether messenger RNA interference targeting glutamate decarboxylase 65/67 (GAD65/67) gene expression in the nucleus accumbens core (NAcbC) is sufficient to increase impulsivity in LI rats.
We identified structural and molecular abnormalities in the NAcbC associated with motor impulsivity in rats. We report a reduction in gray matter density in the left NAcbC of high-impulsive rats, with corresponding reductions in this region of glutamate decarboxylase (GAD65/67) and markers of dendritic spines and microtubules. We further demonstrate that the experimental reduction of de novo of GAD65/67 expression bilaterally in the NAcbC is sufficient to increase impulsivity in LI rats.
These results reveal a novel mechanism of impulsivity in rats involving gamma aminobutyric acidergic and structural abnormalities in the NAcbC with potential relevance to the etiology and treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and related disorders.
PMCID: PMC3898085  PMID: 23973096
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; GABA; impulsivity; magnetic resonance imaging; nucleus accumbens; psychostimulants
13.  Measuring “Waiting” Impulsivity in Substance Addictions and Binge Eating Disorder in a Novel Analogue of Rodent Serial Reaction Time Task 
Biological Psychiatry  2014;75(2):148-155.
Premature responding is a form of motor impulsivity that preclinical evidence has shown to predict compulsive drug seeking but has not yet been studied in humans. We developed a novel translation of the task, based on the rodent 5-choice serial reaction time task, testing premature responding in disorders of drug and natural food rewards.
Abstinent alcohol- (n = 30) and methamphetamine-dependent (n = 23) subjects, recreational cannabis users (n = 30), and obese subjects with (n = 30) and without (n = 30) binge eating disorder (BED) were compared with matched healthy volunteers and tested on the premature responding task.
Compared with healthy volunteers, alcohol- and methamphetamine-dependent subjects and cannabis users showed greater premature responding with no differences observed in obese subjects with or without BED. Current smokers exhibited greater premature responding versus ex-smokers and nonsmokers. Alcohol-dependent subjects also had lower motivation for explicit monetary incentives. A Motivation Index correlated negatively with alcohol use and binge eating severity.
Premature responding on a novel translation of a serial reaction time task was more evident in substance use disorders but not in obese subjects with or without BED. Lower motivation for monetary incentives linked alcohol use and binge eating severity. Our findings add to understanding the relationship between drug and natural food rewards.
PMCID: PMC3988873  PMID: 23790224
Binge eating; impulsivity; motivation; obesity; premature responding; substance use disorders
14.  Impaired Decisional Impulsivity in Pathological Videogamers 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75914.
Pathological gaming is an emerging and poorly understood problem. Impulsivity is commonly impaired in disorders of behavioural and substance addiction, hence we sought to systematically investigate the different subtypes of decisional and motor impulsivity in a well-defined pathological gaming cohort.
Fifty-two pathological gaming subjects and age-, gender- and IQ-matched healthy volunteers were tested on decisional impulsivity (Information Sampling Task testing reflection impulsivity and delay discounting questionnaire testing impulsive choice), and motor impulsivity (Stop Signal Task testing motor response inhibition, and the premature responding task). We used stringent diagnostic criteria highlighting functional impairment.
In the Information Sampling Task, pathological gaming participants sampled less evidence prior to making a decision and scored fewer points compared with healthy volunteers. Gaming severity was also negatively correlated with evidence gathered and positively correlated with sampling error and points acquired. In the delay discounting task, pathological gamers made more impulsive choices, preferring smaller immediate over larger delayed rewards. Pathological gamers made more premature responses related to comorbid nicotine use. Greater number of hours played also correlated with a Motivational Index. Greater frequency of role playing games was associated with impaired motor response inhibition and strategy games with faster Go reaction time.
We show that pathological gaming is associated with impaired decisional impulsivity with negative consequences in task performance. Decisional impulsivity may be a potential target in therapeutic management.
PMCID: PMC3797823  PMID: 24146789
15.  Increased Ventral Striatal Volume in College-Aged Binge Drinkers 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74164.
Binge drinking is a serious public health issue associated with cognitive, physiological, and anatomical differences from healthy individuals. No studies, however, have reported subcortical grey matter differences in this population. To address this, we compared the grey matter volumes of college-age binge drinkers and healthy controls, focusing on the ventral striatum, hippocampus and amygdala.
T1-weighted images of 19 binge drinkers and 19 healthy volunteers were analyzed using voxel-based morphometry. Structural data were also covaried with Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) scores. Cluster-extent threshold and small volume corrections were both used to analyze imaging data.
Binge drinkers had significantly larger ventral striatal grey matter volumes compared to controls. There were no between group differences in hippocampal or amygdalar volume. Ventral striatal, amygdalar, and hippocampal volumes were also negatively related to AUDIT scores across groups.
Our findings stand in contrast to the lower ventral striatal volume previously observed in more severe forms of alcohol use disorders, suggesting that college-age binge drinkers may represent a distinct population from those groups. These findings may instead represent early sequelae, compensatory effects of repeated binge and withdrawal, or an endophenotypic risk factor.
PMCID: PMC3785474  PMID: 24086317
16.  Central autonomic network mediates cardiovascular responses to acute inflammation: Relevance to increased cardiovascular risk in depression? 
Brain, Behavior, and Immunity  2013;31(100):189-196.
► Acute inflammation modulates two cardiovascular risk factors: blood pressure and heart rate variability by effects on brain homeostatic control and integration centres.
Inflammation is a risk factor for both depression and cardiovascular disease. Depressed mood is also a cardiovascular risk factor. To date, research into mechanisms through which inflammation impacts cardiovascular health rarely takes into account central effects on autonomic cardiovascular control, instead emphasizing direct effects of peripheral inflammatory responses on endothelial reactivity and myocardial function. However, brain responses to inflammation engage neural systems for motivational and homeostatic control and are expressed through depressed mood state and changes in autonomic cardiovascular regulation. Here we combined an inflammatory challenge, known to evoke an acute reduction in mood, with neuroimaging to identify the functional brain substrates underlying potentially detrimental changes in autonomic cardiovascular control.
We first demonstrated that alterations in the balance of low to high frequency (LF/HF) changes in heart rate variability (a measure of baroreflex sensitivity) could account for some of the inflammation-evoked changes in diastolic blood pressure, indicating a central (rather than solely local endothelial) origin. Accompanying alterations in regional brain metabolism (measured using 18FDG-PET) were analysed to localise central mechanisms of inflammation-induced changes in cardiovascular state: three discrete regions previously implicated in stressor-evoked blood pressure reactivity, the dorsal anterior and posterior cingulate and pons, strongly mediated the relationship between inflammation and blood pressure. Moreover, activity changes within each region predicted the inflammation-induced shift in LF/HF balance. These data are consistent with a centrally-driven component originating within brain areas supporting stressor evoked blood pressure reactivity. Together our findings highlight mechanisms binding psychological and physiological well-being and their perturbation by peripheral inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3701839  PMID: 23416033
Cytokines; FDG PET; Peripheral inflammation; Blood pressure; Sympathetic; Heart rate variability
17.  Impulsive choice and response in dopamine agonist-related impulse control behaviors 
Psychopharmacology  2009;207(4):645-659.
Dopaminergic medication-related Impulse Control Disorders (ICDs) such as pathological gambling and compulsive shopping have been reported in Parkinson disease (PD).
We hypothesized that dopamine agonists (DAs) would be associated with greater impulsive choice, or greater discounting of delayed rewards, in PD patients with ICDs (PDI).
Fourteen PDI patients, 14 PD controls without ICDs and 16 medication-free matched normal controls were tested on (i) the Experiential Discounting Task (EDT), a feedback-based intertemporal choice task, (ii) spatial working memory and (iii) attentional set shifting. The EDT was used to assess impulsivity choice (hyperbolic K-value), reaction time (RT) and decision conflict RT (the RT difference between high conflict and low conflict choices). PDI patients and PD controls were tested on and off DA.
On the EDT, there was a group by medication interaction effect [F(1,26)=5.62; p=0.03] with pairwise analyses demonstrating that DA status was associated with increased impulsive choice in PDI patients (p=0.02) but not in PD controls (p=0.37). PDI patients also had faster RT compared to PD controls F(1,26)=7.51 p=0.01]. DA status was associated with shorter RT [F(3,24)=8.39, p=0.001] and decision conflict RT [F(1,26)=6.16, p=0.02] in PDI patients but not in PD controls. There were no correlations between different measures of impulsivity. PDI patients on DA had greater spatial working memory impairments compared to PD controls on DA (t=2.13, df=26, p=0.04).
Greater impulsive choice, faster RT, faster decision conflict RT and executive dysfunction may contribute to ICDs in PD.
PMCID: PMC3676926  PMID: 19838863
dopamine agonist; gambling; impulse control; Parkinson disease; delay discounting
18.  Diagnosis and treatment of impulse control disorders in patients with movement disorders 
Impulse control disorders are a psychiatric condition characterized by the failure to resist an impulsive act or behavior that may be harmful to self or others. In movement disorders, impulse control disorders are associated with dopaminergic treatment, notably dopamine agonists (DAs). Impulse control disorders have been studied extensively in Parkinson’s disease, but are also recognized in restless leg syndrome and atypical Parkinsonian syndromes. Epidemiological studies suggest younger age, male sex, greater novelty seeking, impulsivity, depression and premorbid impulse control disorders as the most consistent risk factors. Such patients may warrant special monitoring after starting treatment with a DA. Various individual screening tools are available for people without Parkinson’s disease. The Questionnaire for Impulsive-Compulsive Disorders in Parkinson’s Disease has been developed specifically for Parkinson’s disease. The best treatment for impulse control disorders is prevention. However, after the development of impulse control disorders, the mainstay intervention is to reduce or discontinue the offending anti-Parkinsonian medication. In refractory cases, other pharmacological interventions are available, including neuroleptics, antiepileptics, amantadine, antiandrogens, lithium and opioid antagonists. Unfortunately, their use is only supported by case reports, small case series or open-label clinical studies. Prospective, controlled studies are warranted. Ongoing investigations include naltrexone and nicotine.
PMCID: PMC3625015  PMID: 23634190
Impulse control disorders; Parkinson’s disease; restless leg syndrome; parkinsonism; dopamine agonist; non-motor complication; neurobehavioural
19.  Impulse control disorders in Parkinson’s disease: recent advances 
Current opinion in neurology  2011;24(4):324-330.
Purpose of review
To review the recent advances in the epidemiology and pathophysiology of impulse control disorders (ICD) in Parkinson’s disease (PD).
Recent findings
Large cross-sectional and case-control multicentre studies show that ICDs in PD are common with a frequency of 13.6%. These behaviours are associated with impaired functioning and with depressive, anxiety and obsessive symptoms, novelty seeking and impulsivity. Behavioural subtypes demonstrate differences in novelty seeking and impulsivity suggesting pathophysiological differences. Observational and neurophysiological studies point towards a potential mechanistic overlap between the behavioural (ICDs) and motor (dyskinesias) dopaminergic sequelae. Converging data suggest dopamine agonists in ICDs appear to enhance learning from rewarding outcomes and impulsive choice. ICD patients also have enhanced risk preference and impaired working memory. Neuroimaging data points towards enhanced bottom-up ventral striatal dopamine release to incentive cues, gambling tasks and reward prediction, and possibly inhibition of top-down orbitofrontal influences. Dopamine agonist-related ventral striatal hypoactivity to risk is consistent with impaired risk evaluation.
Recent large scale studies and converging findings are beginning to provide an understanding of mechanisms underlying ICDs in PD which can guide prevention of these behaviours and optimize therapeutic approaches.
PMCID: PMC3154756  PMID: 21725242
Impulse control disorders; Parkinson’s disease; dopamine agonists; pathological gambling; impulsivity
20.  Dopamine agonists and risk: impulse control disorders in Parkinson's; disease 
Brain  2011;134(5):1438-1446.
Impulse control disorders are common in Parkinson's; disease, occurring in 13.6% of patients. Using a pharmacological manipulation and a novel risk taking task while performing functional magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated the relationship between dopamine agonists and risk taking in patients with Parkinson's; disease with and without impulse control disorders. During functional magnetic resonance imaging, subjects chose between two choices of equal expected value: a ‘Sure’ choice and a ‘Gamble’ choice of moderate risk. To commence each trial, in the ‘Gain’ condition, individuals started at $0 and in the ‘Loss’ condition individuals started at −$50 below the ‘Sure’ amount. The difference between the maximum and minimum outcomes from each gamble (i.e. range) was used as an index of risk (‘Gamble Risk’). Sixteen healthy volunteers were behaviourally tested. Fourteen impulse control disorder (problem gambling or compulsive shopping) and 14 matched Parkinson's; disease controls were tested ON and OFF dopamine agonists. Patients with impulse control disorder made more risky choices in the ‘Gain’ relative to the ‘Loss’ condition along with decreased orbitofrontal cortex and anterior cingulate activity, with the opposite observed in Parkinson's; disease controls. In patients with impulse control disorder, dopamine agonists were associated with enhanced sensitivity to risk along with decreased ventral striatal activity again with the opposite in Parkinson's; disease controls. Patients with impulse control disorder appear to have a bias towards risky choices independent of the effect of loss aversion. Dopamine agonists enhance sensitivity to risk in patients with impulse control disorder possibly by impairing risk evaluation in the striatum. Our results provide a potential explanation of why dopamine agonists may lead to an unconscious bias towards risk in susceptible individuals.
PMCID: PMC3097893  PMID: 21596771
Parkinson's; disease; dopamine; gambling; decision making; risk
21.  Frequency of impulse control behaviours associated with dopaminergic therapy in restless legs syndrome 
BMC Neurology  2011;11:117.
Low doses of dopamine agonists (DA) and levodopa are effective in the treatment of restless legs syndrome (RLS). A range of impulse control and compulsive behaviours (ICBs) have been reported following the use of DAs and levodopa in patients with Parkinson's disease. With this study we sought to assess the cross-sectional prevalence of impulse control behaviours (ICBs) in restless legs syndrome (RLS) and to determine factors associated with ICBs in a population cohort in Germany.
Several questionnaires based on validated and previously used instruments for assessment of ICBs were mailed out to patients being treated for RLS. Final diagnoses of ICBs were based on stringent diagnostic criteria after psychiatric interviews were performed.
10/140 RLS patients of a clinical cohort (7.1%) were finally diagnosed with ICBs, 8 of 10 on dopamine agonist (DA) therapy, 2 of 10 on levodopa. 8 of the 10 affected patients showed more than one type of abnormal behaviour. Among those who responded to the questionnaires 6/140 [4.3%] revealed binge eating, 5/140 [3.6%] compulsive shopping, 3/140 [2.1%] pathological gambling, 3/140 [2.1%] punding, and 2/140 [1.4%] hypersexuality in psychiatric assessments. Among those who did not respond to questionnaires, 32 were randomly selected and interviewed: only 1 patient showed positive criteria of ICBs with compulsive shopping and binge eating. ICBs were associated with higher DA dose (p = 0.001), younger RLS onset (p = 0.04), history of experimental drug use (p = 0.002), female gender (p = 0.04) and a family history of gambling disorders (p = 0.02), which accounted for 52% of the risk variance.
RLS patients treated with dopaminergic agents and dopamine agonists in particular, should be forewarned of potential side effects. A careful history of risk factors should be taken.
PMCID: PMC3195705  PMID: 21955669
Restless legs syndrome; impulse control disorders; dopamine agonist; gambling; levodopa
22.  Emotional stimuli and motor conversion disorder 
Brain  2010;133(5):1526-1536.
Conversion disorder is characterized by neurological signs and symptoms related to an underlying psychological issue. Amygdala activity to affective stimuli is well characterized in healthy volunteers with greater amygdala activity to both negative and positive stimuli relative to neutral stimuli, and greater activity to negative relative to positive stimuli. We investigated the relationship between conversion disorder and affect by assessing amygdala activity to affective stimuli. We conducted a functional magnetic resonance imaging study using a block design incidental affective task with fearful, happy and neutral face stimuli and compared valence contrasts between 16 patients with conversion disorder and 16 age- and gender-matched healthy volunteers. The patients with conversion disorder had positive movements such as tremor, dystonia or gait abnormalities. We also assessed functional connectivity between the amygdala and regions associated with motor preparation. A group by affect valence interaction was observed. Post hoc analyses revealed that whereas healthy volunteers had greater right amygdala activity to fearful versus neutral compared with happy versus neutral as expected, there were no valence differences in patients with conversion disorder. There were no group differences observed. The time course analysis also revealed greater right amygdala activity in patients with conversion disorder for happy stimuli (t = 2.96, P = 0.006) (with a trend for fearful stimuli, t = 1.81, P = 0.08) compared with healthy volunteers, with a pattern suggestive of impaired amygdala habituation even when controlling for depressive and anxiety symptoms. Using psychophysiological interaction analysis, patients with conversion disorder had greater functional connectivity between the right amygdala and the right supplementary motor area during both fearful versus neutral, and happy versus neutral ‘stimuli’ compared with healthy volunteers. These results were confirmed with Granger Causality Modelling analysis indicating a directional influence from the right amygdala to the right supplementary motor area to happy stimuli (P < 0.05) with a similar trend observed to fearful stimuli (P = 0.07). Our data provide a potential neural mechanism that may explain why psychological or physiological stressors can trigger or exacerbate conversion disorder symptoms in some patients. Greater functional connectivity of limbic regions influencing motor preparatory regions during states of arousal may underlie the pathophysiology of motor conversion symptoms.
PMCID: PMC2859149  PMID: 20371508
conversion disorder; arousal; amydala; affect; psychogenic movement disorder
23.  Mechanisms underlying dopamine-mediated reward bias in compulsive behaviors 
Neuron  2010;65(1):135.
Pathological behaviors such as problem gambling or shopping are characterized by compulsive choice despite alternative options and negative costs. Reinforcement learning algorithms allow a computation of prediction error, a comparison of actual and expected outcomes, which updates our predictions and influence our subsequent choices. Using a reinforcement learning model, we show data consistent with the idea that dopamine agonists in susceptible individuals with Parkinson's disease increase the rate of learning from gain outcomes. Dopamine agonists also increase striatal prediction error activity thus signifying a “better than expected” outcome. Thus, our findings are consistent with a model whereby a distorted estimation of the gain cue underpins a choice bias towards gains.
PMCID: PMC2822730  PMID: 20152119
24.  Validation of the Questionnaire for Impulsive-Compulsive Disorders in Parkinson’s Disease (QUIP) 
As no comprehensive assessment instrument for impulse control disorders (ICDs) in Parkinson’s disease (PD) exists, the aim of this study was to design and assess the psychometric properties of a self-administered screening questionnaire for ICDs and other compulsive behaviors in PD.
The Questionnaire for Impulsive-Compulsive Disorders in Parkinson’s Disease (QUIP) has 3 sections: Section 1 assesses four ICDs (involving gambling, sexual, buying, and eating behaviors), Section 2 other compulsive behaviors (punding, hobbyism and walkabout), and Section 3 compulsive medication use. For validation, a convenience sample of 157 PD patients at 4 movement disorders centers first completed the QUIP, and then was administered a diagnostic interview by a trained rater blinded to the QUIP results. A shortened instrument (QUIP-S) was then explored.
The discriminant validity of the QUIP was high for each disorder or behavior (receiver operating characteristic area under the curve [ROC AUC]: gambling=0.95, sexual behavior=0.97, buying=0.87, eating=0.88, punding=0.78, hobbyism=0.93, walkabout=0.79). On post hoc analysis, the QUIP-S ICD section had similar properties (ROC AUC: gambling=0.95, sexual behavior=0.96, buying=0.87, eating=0.88). When disorders/behaviors were combined, the sensitivity of the QUIP and QUIP-S to detect an individual with any disorder was 96% and 94%, respectively.
Scores on the QUIP appear to be valid as a self-assessment screening instrument for a range of ICDs and other compulsive behaviors that occur in PD, and a shortened version may perform as well as the full version. A positive screen should be followed by a comprehensive, clinical interview to determine the range and severity of symptoms, as well as need for clinical management.
PMCID: PMC2848971  PMID: 19452562
Parkinson’s disease; impulse control disorders; dopamine dysregulation syndrome; punding; pathological gambling
25.  A multicentre study on suicide outcomes following subthalamic stimulation for Parkinson's disease 
Brain  2008;131(10):2720-2728.
Subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation improves motor symptoms and quality of life in advanced Parkinson's disease. As after other life-altering surgeries, suicides have been reported following deep brain stimulation for movement disorders. We sought to determine the suicide rate following subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's disease by conducting an international multicentre retrospective survey of movement disorder and surgical centres. We further sought to determine factors associated with suicide attempts through a nested case-control study. In the survey of suicide rate, 55/75 centres participated. The completed suicide percentage was 0.45% (24/5311) and attempted suicide percentage was 0.90% (48/5311). Observed suicide rates in the first postoperative year (263/100 000/year) (0.26%) were higher than the lowest and the highest expected age-, gender- and country-adjusted World Health Organization suicide rates (Standardized Mortality Ratio for suicide: SMR 12.63–15.64; P < 0.001) and remained elevated at the fourth postoperative year (38/100 000/year) (0.04%) (SMR 1.81–2.31; P < 0.05). The excess number of deaths was 13 for the first postoperative year and one for the fourth postoperative year. In the case-control study of associated factors, 10 centres participated. Twenty-seven attempted suicides and nine completed suicides were compared with 70 controls. Postoperative depression (P < 0.001), being single (P = 0.007) and a previous history of impulse control disorders or compulsive medication use (P = 0.005) were independent associated factors accounting for 51% of the variance for attempted suicide risk. Attempted suicides were also associated (P < 0.05) with being younger, younger Parkinson's disease onset and a previous suicide attempt. Completed suicides were associated with postoperative depression (P < 0.001). Postoperative depression remained a significant factor associated with attempted and completed suicides after correction for multiple comparisons using the stringent Bonferroni correction. Mortality in the first year following subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation has been reported at 0.4%. Suicide is thus one of the most important potentially preventable risks for mortality following subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's disease. Postoperative depression should be carefully assessed and treated. A multidisciplinary assessment and follow-up is recommended.
PMCID: PMC2724899  PMID: 18941146
suicide; deep brain stimulation; Parkinson's disease; depression; subthalamic stimulation

Results 1-25 (26)