Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) can lead to infants being born small for gestational age (SGA). SGA is associated with differences in brain anatomy and impaired cognition. We investigated learning and memory in children born SGA using neuropsychological testing and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).
18 children born appropriate for gestational age (AGA) and 34 SGA born children (18 with and 16 without postnatal catch-up growth) participated in this study. All children were between 4 and 7 years old. Cognitive functioning was assessed by IQ and memory testing (Digit/Word Span and Location Learning). A newly developed fMRI picture encoding task was completed by all children in order to assess brain regions involved in memory processes.
Neuropsychological testing demonstrated that SGA children had IQ’s within the normal range but lower than in AGA and poorer performances across measures of memory. Using fMRI, we observed memory related activity in posterior parahippocampal gyrus as well as the hippocampus proper. Additionally, activation was seen bilaterally in the prefrontal gyrus. Children born SGA showed less activation in the left parahippocampal region compared to AGA.
This is the first fMRI study demonstrating different brain activation patterns in 4-7 year old children born SGA, suggesting that intrauterine growth restriction continues to affect neural functioning in children later-on.
Neuropeptide Y (NPY) has been associated with stress reactivity in affective disorders and is most densely expressed in the amygdala. An important stressor associated with affective disorders is the experience of childhood emotional maltreatment (CEM). We investigated whether the interaction of NPY risk genotype and CEM would affect brain activation. From the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety, 33 healthy controls and 85 patients with affective disorders were scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging while making gender decisions of emotional facial expressions. Results showed interactions between genotype and CEM, within carriers of the risk genotype, CEM was associated with higher amygdala activation, whereas CEM did not influence activation in non-risk carriers. In the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), less activation was seen in those with CEM and the risk genotype, whereas genotype did not influence PCC activation in those without CEM. In addition, those carrying the risk genotype and with experience of CEM made a faster gender decision than those without CEM. Thus, the combined effect of carrying NPY risk genotype and a history of CEM affected amygdala and PCC reactivity, areas related to emotion, self-relevance processing and autobiographical memory. These results are consistent with the notion that the combination of risk genotype and CEM may cause hypervigilance.
NPY; amygdala; fMRI; depression; childhood abuse
Schizophrenia is highly comorbid with cannabis use disorders (CUDs), and this comorbidity is associated with an unfavourable course. Early onset or frequent cannabis use may influence brain structure. A key question is whether comorbid CUDs modulate brain morphology alterations associated with schizophrenia.
We used surface-based analysis to measure the brain volume, cortical thickness and cortical surface area of a priori–defined brain regions (hippocampus, amygdala, thalamus, caudate, putamen, orbitofrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, insula, parahippocampus and fusiform gyrus) in male patients with schizophrenia or related disorders with and without comorbid CUDs and matched healthy controls. Associations between age at onset and frequency of cannabis use with regional grey matter volume were explored.
We included 113 patients with (CUD, n = 80) and without (NCUD, n = 33) CUDs and 84 controls in our study. As expected, patients with schizophrenia (with or without a CUD) had smaller volumes of most brain regions (amygdala, putamen, insula, parahippocampus and fusiform gyrus) than healthy controls, and differences in cortical volume were mainly driven by cortical thinning. Compared with the NCUD group, the CUD group had a larger volume of the putamen, possibly driven by polysubstance use. No associations between age at onset and frequency of use with regional grey matter volumes were found.
We were unable to correct for possible confounding effects of smoking or antipsychotic medication.
Patients with psychotic disorders and comorbid CUDs have larger putamen volumes than those without CUDs. Future studies should elaborate whether a large putamen represents a risk factor for the development of CUDs or whether (poly)substance use causes changes in putamen volume.
The highly complex structure of the human brain is strongly shaped by genetic influences1. Subcortical brain regions form circuits with cortical areas to coordinate movement2, learning, memory3 and motivation4, and altered circuits can lead to abnormal behaviour and disease2. To investigate how common genetic variants affect the structure of these brain regions, here we conduct genome-wide association studies of the volumes of seven subcortical regions and the intracranial volume derived from magnetic resonance images of 30,717 individuals from 50 cohorts. We identify five novel genetic variants influencing the volumes of the putamen and caudate nucleus. We also find stronger evidence for three loci with previously established influences on hippocampal volume5 and intracranial volume6. These variants show specific volumetric effects on brain structures rather than global effects across structures. The strongest effects were found for the putamen, where a novel intergenic locus with replicable influence on volume (rs945270; P = 1.08 × 10−33; 0.52% variance explained) showed evidence of altering the expression of the KTN1 gene in both brain and blood tissue. Variants influencing putamen volume clustered near developmental genes that regulate apoptosis, axon guidance and vesicle transport. Identification of these genetic variants provides insight into the causes of variability inhuman brain development, and may help to determine mechanisms of neuropsychiatric dysfunction.
Independent studies on major depressive disorder (MDD) and hypertension, suggest overlapping abnormalities in brain regions associated with emotional and autonomic processing. However, the unique and interactive effects of MDD and hypertension have never been studied in a single sample. Brain volume in these areas may be an explanatory link in the comorbidity between MDD and hypertension. Voxel-based morphometry was used to test for main effects of MDD (N = 152) and hypertension (N = 82) and their interactions on gray and white matter volumes. Voxel-wise results are reported at p < .05 FWE corrected for the spatial extent of the whole brain and a-priori regions of interest (ROIs: hippocampus, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and inferior frontal gyrus (IFG)). In addition, analyses on the extracted total volumes of our ROIs were performed. Interactive effects in the mid-cingulate cortex (MCC) (pFWE = .01), cerebellum (pFWE = .01) and in the ACC total ROI volume (p = .02) were found. MDD in the presence, but not in the absence of hypertension was associated with lower volumes in the ACC and MCC, and with a trend towards larger gray matter volume in the cerebellum. No associations with white matter volumes were observed. Results suggest that the combination of MDD and hypertension has a unique effect on brain volumes in areas implicated in the regulation of emotional and autonomic functions. Brain volume in these regulatory areas may be an explanatory link in the comorbidity between hypertension and MDD.
•We tested for main and interaction effects of MDD and hypertension on brain volumes.•Voxel based morphometry was used to test effects on gray and white matter volumes.•Both whole brain and region of interest analyses were performed.•The combination of MDD and hypertension has unique effects on regional brain volumes.•Brain volume may be a link in the comorbidity between hypertension and MDD.
Depression; Blood pressure; Hypertension; Comorbidity; MRI; Gray matter
Approximately one-third of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) do not achieve remission after various treatment options and develop treatment resistant depression (TRD). So far, little is known about the pathophysiology of TRD. Studies in MDD patients showed aberrant functional connectivity (FC) of three “core” neurocognitive networks: the salience network (SN), cognitive control network (CCN), and default mode network (DMN). We used a cross-sectional design and performed resting-state FC MRI to assess connectivity of the SN, CCN, and both anterior and posterior DMN in 17 severe TRD, 18 non-TRD, and 18 healthy control (HC) subjects. Relative to both non-TRD and HC subjects, TRD patients showed decreased FC between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and angular gyrus, which suggests reduced FC between the CCN and DMN, and reduced FC between the medial prefrontal cortex and precuneus/cuneus, which suggests reduced FC between the anterior and posterior DMN. No significant differences in SN FC were observed. Our results suggest that TRD is characterized by a disturbance in neurocognitive networks relative to non-TRD and HC.
major depressive disorder; treatment resistant depression; functional connectivity; salience network; cognitive control network; default mode network
An increasing body of literature indicates that chemotherapy (ChT) for breast cancer (BC) is associated with adverse effects on the brain. Recent research suggests that cognitive and brain function in patients with BC may already be compromised before the start of chemotherapy. This is the first study combining neuropsychological testing, patient-reported outcomes, and multimodal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine pretreatment cognition and various aspects of brain function and structure in a large sample.
Thirty-two patients with BC scheduled to receive ChT (pre-ChT+), 33 patients with BC not indicated to undergo ChT (pre-ChT−), and 38 no-cancer controls (NCs) were included. The examination consisted of a neuropsychological test battery, self-reported aspects of psychosocial functioning, and multimodal MRI.
Patients with BC reported worse scores on several aspects of quality of life, such as higher levels of fatigue and stress. However, cortisol levels were not elevated in the patient groups compared to the control group. Overall cognitive performance was lower in the pre-ChT+ and the pre-ChT− groups compared to NC. Further, patients demonstrated prefrontal hyperactivation with increasing task difficulty on a planning task compared to NC, but not during a memory task. White matter integrity was lower in both patient groups. No differences in regional brain volume and brain metabolites were found. The cognitive and imaging data converged to show that symptoms of fatigue were associated with the observed abnormalities; the observed differences were no longer significant when fatigue was accounted for.
This study suggests that cancer-related psychological or biological processes may adversely impact cognitive functioning and associated aspects of brain structure and function before the start of adjuvant treatment. Our findings stress the importance to further explore the processes underlying the expression of fatigue and to study whether it has a contributory role in subsequent treatment-related cognitive decline.
•Breast cancer patients perform worse on cognitive tests than no-cancer controls.•Patients report lower quality of life and more fatigue and stress than controls.•DTI indicates lower white matter integrity in patients than controls.•fMRI shows prefrontal hyperactivation in patients compared to controls.•Effects occur prior to systemic treatment and are associated with fatigue.
Breast cancer; Magnetic resonance imaging; Cognition; Fatigue
Total sleep deprivation (TSD) may induce fatigue, neurocognitive slowing and mood changes, which are partly compensated by stress regulating brain systems, resulting in altered dopamine and cortisol levels in order to stay awake if needed. These systems, however, have never been studied in concert. At baseline, after a regular night of sleep, and the next morning after TSD, 12 healthy subjects performed a semantic affective classification functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) task, followed by a [11C]raclopride positron emission tomography (PET) scan. Saliva cortisol levels were acquired at 7 time points during both days. Affective symptoms were measured using Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), Spielberger State Trait Anxiety Index (STAI) and visual analogue scales. After TSD, perceived energy levels, concentration, and speed of thought decreased significantly, whereas mood did not. During fMRI, response speed decreased for neutral words and positive targets, and accuracy decreased trendwise for neutral words and for positive targets with a negative distracter. Following TSD, processing of positive words was associated with increased left dorsolateral prefrontal activation. Processing of emotional words in general was associated with increased insular activity, whereas contrasting positive vs. negative words showed subthreshold increased activation in the (para)hippocampal area. Cortisol secretion was significantly lower after TSD. Decreased voxel-by-voxel [11C]raclopride binding potential (BPND) was observed in left caudate. TSD induces widespread cognitive, neurophysiologic and endocrine changes in healthy adults, characterized by reduced cognitive functioning, despite increased regional brain activity. The blunted HPA-axis response together with altered [11C]raclopride binding in the basal ganglia indicate that sustained wakefulness requires involvement of additional adaptive biological systems.
A lack of social support and recognition by the environment is one of the most consistent risk factors for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and PTSD patients will recover faster with proper social support. The oxytocin system has been proposed to underlie beneficial effects of social support as it is implicated in both social bonding behavior and reducing stress responsivity, notably amygdala reactivity (Koch et al., 2014; Olff et al., 2010; Olff, 2012). The amygdala is found to be hypersensitive in people with PTSD.
In order to investigate neurobiological mechanisms underlying potential preventive and therapeutic effects of intranasal oxytocin, we performed a series of fMRI studies (funded with a prestigious NWO TOP grant): BONDS standing for “Boosting Oxytocin after trauma: Neurobiology and the Development of Stress-related psychopathology” in acutely traumatized persons admitted to the emergency department (Frijling et al., 2014); BOOSTER “Boosting oxytocin after trauma: the effects of intranasal oxytocin administration on emotional and motivational processing and neural activity in PTSD” in police officers with and without PTSD.
In this presentation, we present the BOOSTER results on the effects of a single oxytocin administration on amygdala reactivity in response to emotional faces in PTSD patients versus traumatized controls. We found significantly decreased bilateral amygdala reactivity towards emotional faces in PTSD patients compared to traumatized controls.
These promising results call for intervention studies such as studying the effects of medication (oxytocin) enhanced psychotherapy in PTSD patients.
oxytocin; social support; PTSD; trauma; fMRI; neuroimaging; amygdala
Effective first-line treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are well established, but their generalizability to child abuse (CA)-related Complex PTSD is largely unknown.
A quantitative review of the literature was performed, identifying seven studies, with treatments specifically targeting CA-related PTSD or Complex PTSD, which were meta-analyzed, including variables such as effect size, drop-out, recovery, and improvement rates.
Only six studies with one or more cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) treatment conditions and one with a present centered therapy condition could be meta-analyzed. Results indicate that CA-related PTSD patients profit with large effect sizes and modest recovery and improvement rates. Treatments which include exposure showed greater effect sizes especially in completers’ analyses, although no differential results were found in recovery and improvement rates. However, results in the subgroup of CA-related Complex PTSD studies were least favorable. Within the Complex PTSD subgroup, no superior effect size was found for exposure, and affect management resulted in more favorable recovery and improvement rates and less drop-out, as compared to exposure, especially in intention-to-treat analyses.
Limited evidence suggests that predominantly CBT treatments are effective, but do not suffice to achieve satisfactory end states, especially in Complex PTSD populations. Moreover, we propose that future research should focus on direct comparisons between types of treatment for Complex PTSD patients, thereby increasing generalizability of results.
Review; meta-analysis; PTSD; psychotherapy; cognitive behavioral therapy; cognitive behavioral treatment; child abuse; childhood abuse; adult survivors of child abuse
Several current theories emphasize the role of cognitive control in addiction. The present review evaluates neural deficits in the domains of inhibitory control and error processing in individuals with substance dependence and in those showing excessive addiction-like behaviours. The combined evaluation of event-related potential (ERP) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) findings in the present review offers unique information on neural deficits in addicted individuals.
We selected 19 ERP and 22 fMRI studies using stop-signal, go/no-go or Flanker paradigms based on a search of PubMed and Embase.
The most consistent findings in addicted individuals relative to healthy controls were lower N2, error-related negativity and error positivity amplitudes as well as hypoactivation in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), inferior frontal gyrus and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. These neural deficits, however, were not always associated with impaired task performance. With regard to behavioural addictions, some evidence has been found for similar neural deficits; however, studies are scarce and results are not yet conclusive. Differences among the major classes of substances of abuse were identified and involve stronger neural responses to errors in individuals with alcohol dependence versus weaker neural responses to errors in other substance-dependent populations.
Task design and analysis techniques vary across studies, thereby reducing comparability among studies and the potential of clinical use of these measures.
Current addiction theories were supported by identifying consistent abnormalities in prefrontal brain function in individuals with addiction. An integrative model is proposed, suggesting that neural deficits in the dorsal ACC may constitute a hallmark neurocognitive deficit underlying addictive behaviours, such as loss of control.
Studies in rodents have demonstrated that insulin in the central nervous system induces satiety. In humans, these effects are less well established. Insulin detemir is a basal insulin analog that causes less weight gain than other basal insulin formulations, including the current standard intermediate-long acting Neutral Protamine Hagedorn (NPH) insulin. Due to its structural modifications, which render the molecule more lipophilic, it was proposed that insulin detemir enters the brain more readily than other insulins. The aim of this study was to investigate whether insulin detemir treatment differentially modifies brain activation in response to food stimuli as compared to NPH insulin. In addition, cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) insulin levels were measured after both treatments. Brain responses to viewing food and non-food pictures were measured using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging in 32 type 1 diabetic patients, after each of two 12-week treatment periods with insulin detemir and NPH insulin, respectively, both combined with prandial insulin aspart. CSF insulin levels were determined in a subgroup. Insulin detemir decreased body weight by 0.8 kg and NPH insulin increased weight by 0.5 kg (p = 0.02 for difference), while both treatments resulted in similar glycemic control. After treatment with insulin detemir, as compared to NPH insulin, brain activation was significantly lower in bilateral insula in response to visual food stimuli, compared to NPH (p = 0.02 for right and p = 0.05 for left insula). Also, CSF insulin levels were higher compared to those with NPH insulin treatment (p = 0.003). Our findings support the hypothesis that in type 1 diabetic patients, the weight sparing effect of insulin detemir may be mediated by its enhanced action on the central nervous system, resulting in blunted activation in bilateral insula, an appetite-regulating brain region, in response to food stimuli.
In the context of chronic childhood emotional maltreatment (CEM; emotional abuse and/or neglect), adequately responding to facial expressions is an important skill. Over time, however, this adaptive response may lead to a persistent vigilance for emotional facial expressions. The amygdala and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) are key regions in face processing. However, the neurobiological correlates of face processing in adults reporting CEM are yet unknown. We examined amydala and mPFC reactivity to emotional faces (Angry, Fearful, Sad, Happy, Neutral) vs scrambled faces in healthy controls and unmedicated patients with depression and/or anxiety disorders reporting CEM before the age of 16 years (n = 60), and controls and patients who report no childhood abuse (n = 75). We found that CEM was associated with enhanced bilateral amygdala reactivity to emotional faces in general, and independent of psychiatric status. Furthermore, we found no support for differential mPFC functioning, suggesting that amygdala hyper-responsivity to emotional facial perception in adults reporting CEM may be independent from top–down influences of the mPFC. These findings may be key in understanding the increased emotional sensitivity and interpersonal difficulties, that have been reported in individuals with a history of CEM.
Amygdala; childhood emotional maltreatment; fMRI; mPFC; stress
Currently few evidence based interventions are available for the prevention of PTSD within the first weeks after trauma. Increased risk for PTSD development is associated with dysregulated fear and stress responses prior to and shortly after trauma, as well as with a lack of perceived social support early after trauma. Oxytocin is a potent regulator of these processes. Therefore, we propose that oxytocin may be important in reducing adverse consequences of trauma. The ‘BONDS’ study is conducted in order to assess the efficacy of an early intervention with intranasal oxytocin for the prevention of PTSD.
In this multicenter double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial we will recruit 220 Emergency Department patients at increased risk of PTSD. Trauma-exposed patients are screened for increased PTSD risk with questionnaires assessing peri-traumatic distress and acute PTSD symptoms within 7 days after trauma. Baseline PTSD symptom severity scores and neuroendocrine and psychophysiological measures will be collected within 10 days after trauma. Participants will be randomized to 7.5 days of intranasal oxytocin (40 IU) or placebo twice a day. Follow-up measurements at 1.5, 3 and 6 months post-trauma are collected to assess PTSD symptom severity (the primary outcome measure). Other measures of symptoms of psychopathology, and neuroendocrine and psychophysiological disorders are secondary outcome measures.
We hypothesize that intranasal oxytocin administered early after trauma is an effective pharmacological strategy to prevent PTSD in individuals at increased risk, which is both safe and easily applicable. Interindividual and contextual factors that may influence the effects of oxytocin treatment will be considered in the analysis of the results.
Netherlands Trial Registry: NTR3190.
Post-traumatic disorder; PTSD; Early intervention; Oxytocin; Neurobiology; Randomized controlled trial; Prevention
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with impaired memory performance coupled with functional changes in brain areas involved in declarative memory and emotion regulation. It is not yet clear how symptom severity and comorbidity affect neurocognitive functioning in PTSD. We performed a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study with an emotional declarative memory task in 28 Complex PTSD patients with comorbid depressive and personality disorders, and 21 healthy non-trauma-exposed controls. In Complex PTSD patients—compared to controls—encoding of later remembered negative words vs baseline was associated with increased blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) response in the left ventral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and dorsal ACC extending to the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) together with a trend for increased left hippocampus activation. Patients tended to commit more False Alarms to negative words compared to controls, which was associated with enhanced left ventrolateral prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortex (vlPFC/OFC) responses. Severity of child abuse was positively correlated with left ventral ACC activity and severity of depression with (para) hippocampal and ventral ACC activity. Presented results demonstrate functional abnormalities in Complex PTSD in the frontolimbic brain circuit also implicated in fear conditioning models, but generally in the opposite direction, which may be explained by severity of the trauma and severity of comorbid depression in Complex PTSD.
anterior cingulate cortex; hippocampus; memory; complex post-traumatic stress disorder; childhood abuse
The Enhancing NeuroImaging Genetics through Meta-Analysis (ENIGMA) Consortium is a collaborative network of researchers working together on a range of large-scale studies that integrate data from 70 institutions worldwide. Organized into Working Groups that tackle questions in neuroscience, genetics, and medicine, ENIGMA studies have analyzed neuroimaging data from over 12,826 subjects. In addition, data from 12,171 individuals were provided by the CHARGE consortium for replication of findings, in a total of 24,997 subjects. By meta-analyzing results from many sites, ENIGMA has detected factors that affect the brain that no individual site could detect on its own, and that require larger numbers of subjects than any individual neuroimaging study has currently collected. ENIGMA’s first project was a genome-wide association study identifying common variants in the genome associated with hippocampal volume or intracranial volume. Continuing work is exploring genetic associations with subcortical volumes (ENIGMA2) and white matter microstructure (ENIGMA-DTI). Working groups also focus on understanding how schizophrenia, bipolar illness, major depression and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affect the brain. We review the current progress of the ENIGMA Consortium, along with challenges and unexpected discoveries made on the way.
Genetics; MRI; GWAS; Consortium; Meta-analysis; Multi-site
With the progression of substance dependence, drug cue-related brain activation is thought to shift from motivational towards habit pathways. However, a direct association between cue-induced brain activation and dependence duration has not yet been shown. We therefore examined the relationship between alcohol cue-reactivity in the brain, cue-induced subjective craving and alcohol dependence duration and severity. Since alcohol dependence is highly comorbid with depression/anxiety, which may modulate brain responses to alcohol cues, we also examined the relation between comorbid depression/anxiety and cue-reactivity.
We compared 30 alcohol dependent patients with 15 healthy controls and 15 depression/anxiety patients during a visual alcohol cue-reactivity task using functional magnetic resonance imaging blood oxygenated level-dependent responses and subjective craving as outcomes. Within the alcohol dependent group we correlated cue-reactivity with alcohol dependence severity and duration, with cue-induced craving and with depression/anxiety levels.
Alcohol dependent patients showed greater cue-reactivity in motivational brain pathways and stronger subjective craving than depression/anxiety patients and healthy controls. Depression/anxiety was not associated with cue-reactivity, but depression severity in alcohol dependent patients was positively associated with craving. Within alcohol dependence, longer duration of alcohol dependence was associated with stronger cue-related activation of the posterior putamen, a structure involved in habits, whereas higher alcohol dependence severity was associated with lower cue-reactivity in the anterior putamen, an area implicated in goal-directed behavior preceding habit formation.
Cue-reactivity in alcohol dependence is not modulated by comorbid depression or anxiety. More importantly, the current data confirm the hypothesis of a ventral to dorsal striatal shift of learning processes with longer dependence duration, which could underlie increasingly habitual substance use with progressing substance dependence.
The odorous steroid androstadienone, a putative male chemo-signal, was previously reported to evoke sex differences in hypothalamic activation in adult heterosexual men and women. In order to investigate whether puberty modulated this sex difference in response to androstadienone, we measured the hypothalamic responsiveness to this chemo-signal in 39 pre-pubertal and 41 adolescent boys and girls by means of functional magnetic resonance imaging. We then investigated whether 36 pre-pubertal children and 38 adolescents diagnosed with gender dysphoria (GD; DSM-5) exhibited sex-atypical (in accordance with their experienced gender), rather than sex-typical (in accordance with their natal sex) hypothalamic activations during olfactory stimulation with androstadienone. We found that the sex difference in responsiveness to androstadienone was already present in pre-pubertal control children and thus likely developed during early perinatal development instead of during sexual maturation. Adolescent girls and boys with GD both responded remarkably like their experienced gender, thus sex-atypical. In contrast, pre-pubertal girls with GD showed neither a typically male nor female hypothalamic activation pattern and pre-pubertal boys with GD had hypothalamic activations in response to androstadienone that were similar to control boys, thus sex-typical. We present here a unique data set of boys and girls diagnosed with GD at two different developmental stages, showing that these children possess certain sex-atypical functional brain characteristics and may have undergone atypical sexual differentiation of the brain.
androstadienone; chemo-signal; fMRI; gender dysphoria; hypothalamus; puberty; sex difference
Through education, a social group transmits accumulated knowledge, skills, customs, and values to its members. So far, to the best of our knowledge, the association between educational attainment and neural correlates of emotion processing has been left unexplored. In a retrospective analysis of The Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we compared two groups of fourteen healthy volunteers with intermediate and high educational attainment, matched for age and gender. The data concerned event-related fMRI of brain activation during perception of facial emotional expressions. The region of interest (ROI) analysis showed stronger right amygdala activation to facial expressions in participants with lower relative to higher educational attainment (HE). The psychophysiological interaction analysis revealed that participants with HE exhibited stronger right amygdala—right insula connectivity during perception of emotional and neutral facial expressions. This exploratory study suggests the relevance of educational attainment on the neural mechanism of facial expressions processing.
emotion; facial expressions; educational attainment; neural response; psychophysiological interaction
Attentional bias in substance-dependent individuals is the tendency to automatically direct the attention to substance-related cues in the environment. Attentional bias is known to be associated with clinical measures such as relapse or successful quitting in smokers. It has been suggested that attentional bias emerges as a consequence of dopaminergic activity evoked by substance-related cues. The current functional magnetic resonance imaging study employed a dopaminergic challenge in order to test whether brain activation associated with attentional bias in smokers could be modulated by a dopamine antagonist. A total of 25 smokers were compared with 24 controls. Participants were scanned twice while performing a pictorial attentional bias task. Haloperidol (2 mg), a selective D2/D3 dopamine antagonist, or placebo was orally administered 4 h before each scanning session in a double-blind randomized cross-over design. Imaging analyses were performed in a priori selected regions of interest. Results showed that smokers had enhanced brain activation compared with controls in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC), right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (r-DLPFC), and left superior parietal lobe (I-SPL) after placebo. Group × medication interactions were found in the dACC and r-DLPFC, with no differences between groups in these regions after haloperidol. The current findings suggest that a pharmacologically induced reduction in dopamine normalizes brain activation associated with attentional bias in the dACC and DLPFC in smokers, probably because salience of these cues is no longer detected when dopamine activity is reduced.
attentional bias; dopamine; smokers; functional magnetic resonance imaging; addiction and substance abuse; attentional bias; cognition; dopamine; imaging; clinical or preclinical; smokers
In the empirical and clinical literature, complex posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and personality disorders (PDs) are suggested to be predictive of drop-out or reduced treatment effectiveness in trauma-focused PTSD treatment.
In this study, we aimed to investigate if personality characteristics would predict treatment compliance and effectiveness in stabilizing complex PTSD treatment.
In a randomized controlled trial on a 20-week stabilizing group cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) for child-abuse-related complex PTSD, we included 71 patients of whom 38 were randomized to a psycho-educational and cognitive behavioral stabilizing group treatment. We compared the patients with few PD symptoms (adaptive) (N=14) with the non-adaptive patients (N=24) as revealed by a cluster analysis.
We found that non-adaptive patients compared to the adaptive patients showed very low drop-out rates. Both non-adaptive patients, classified with highly different personality profiles “withdrawn” and “aggressive,” were equally compliant. With regard to symptom reduction, we found no significant differences between subtypes. Post-hoc, patients with a PD showed lower drop-out rates and higher effect sizes in terms of complex PTSD severity, especially on domains that affect regulation and interpersonal problems.
Contrary to our expectations, these preliminary findings indicate that this treatment is well tolerated by patients with a variety of personality pathology. Larger sample sizes are needed to study effectiveness for subgroups of complex PTSD patients.
Personality disorders; treatment outcome; child abuse; posttraumatic stress disorder; cognitive behavioral treatment; complex PTSD; dissociative subtype
Major depressive disorder (MDD) has been associated with abnormal prefrontal-limbic interactions and altered catecholaminergic neurotransmission. The val158met polymorphism on the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene has been shown to influence prefrontal cortex (PFC) activation during both emotional processing and working memory (WM). Although COMT-genotype is not directly associated with MDD, it may affect MDD pathology by altering PFC activation, an endophenotype associated with both COMT and MDD. 125 participants, including healthy controls (HC, n=28) and MDD patients were genotyped for the COMT val158met polymorphism and underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI-neuroimaging) during emotion processing (viewing of emotional facial expressions) and a WM task (visuospatial planning). Within HC, we observed a positive correlation between the number of met-alleles and right inferior frontal gyrus activation during emotional processing, whereas within patients the number of met-alleles was not correlated with PFC activation. During WM a negative correlation between the number of met-alleles and middle frontal gyrus activation was present in the total sample. In addition, during emotional processing there was an effect of genotype in a cluster including the amygdala and hippocampus. These results demonstrate that COMT genotype is associated with relevant endophenotypes for MDD. In addition, presence of MDD only interacts with genotype during emotional processing and not working memory.