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1.  Impact of Chronic Hypercortisolemia on Affective Processing 
Neuropharmacology  2011;62(1):217-225.
Cushing syndrome (CS) is the classic condition of cortisol dysregulation, and cortisol dysregulation is the prototypic finding in Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). We hypothesized that subjects with active CS would show dysfunction in frontal and limbic structures relevant to affective networks, and also manifest poorer facial affect identification accuracy, a finding reported in MDD.Twenty-one patients with confirmed CS (20 ACTH-dependent and 1 ACTH-independent) were compared to 21 healthy controlsubjects. Identification of affective facial expressions (Facial Emotion Perception Test) was conducted in a 3 Tesla GE fMRI scanner using BOLD fMRI signal. The impact of disease (illness duration, current hormone elevation and degree of disruption of circadian rhythm), performance, and comorbid conditions secondary to hypercortisolemia were evaluated.CS patients made more errors in categorizing facial expressions and had less activation in left anterior superior temporal gyrus, a region important in emotion processing. CS patients showed higher activation in frontal, medial, and subcortical regions relative to controls. Two regions of elevated activation in CS, left middle frontal and lateral posterior/pulvinar areas, were positively correlated with accuracy in emotion identification in the CS group, reflecting compensatory recruitment. In addition, within the CSgroup, greater activation in left dorsal anterior cingulatewas related to greater severity of hormone dysregulation. In conclusion, cortisol dysregulation in CS patients is associated with problems in accuracy of affective discrimination and altered activation of brain structures relevant to emotion perception, processing and regulation, similar to the performance decrements and brain regions shown to be dysfunctional in MDD.
PMCID: PMC3196277  PMID: 21787793
HPA; cortisol; ACTH; emotion; affect; fMRI; Cushings
2.  Frontal and Limbic Activation During Inhibitory Control Predicts Treatment Response in Major Depressive Disorder 
Biological psychiatry  2007;62(11):1272-1280.
Inhibitory control or regulatory difficulties have been explored in major depressive disorder (MDD) but typically in the context of affectively salient information. Inhibitory control is addressed specifically by using a task devoid of affectively-laden stimuli, to disentangle the effects of altered affect and altered inhibitory processes in MDD.
Twenty MDD and 22 control volunteer participants matched by age and gender completed a contextual inhibitory control task, the Parametric Go/No-go (PGNG) task during functional magnetic resonance imaging. The PGNG includes three levels of difficulty, a typical continuous performance task and two progressively more difficult versions including Go/No-go hit and rejection trials. After this test, 15 of 20 MDD patients completed a full 10-week treatment with s-citalopram.
There was a significant interaction among response time (control subjects better), hits (control subjects better), and rejections (patients better). The MDD participants had greater activation compared with the control group in frontal and anterior temporal areas during correct rejections (inhibition). Activation during successful inhibitory events in bilateral inferior frontal and left amygdala, insula, and nucleus accumbens and during unsuccessful inhibition (commission errors) in rostral anterior cingulate predicted post-treatment improvement in depression symptoms.
The imaging findings suggest that in MDD subjects, greater neural activation in frontal, limbic, and temporal regions during correct rejection of lures is necessary to achieve behavioral performance equivalent to control subjects. Greater activation in similar regions was further predictive of better treatment response in MDD.
PMCID: PMC2860742  PMID: 17585888
Depression; executive functioning; fMRI; imaging; inhibitory control; mood disorders; SSRIs; treatment response
3.  An evaluation of distinct volumetric and functional MRI contributions toward understanding age and task performance: A study in the basal ganglia 
Brain research  2007;1135(1):58-68.
Prior work by our group and others has implicated the basal ganglia as important in age-related differences in tasks involving motor response control. The present study used structural and functional MRI approaches to analyze this region of interest (ROI) toward better understanding the contributions of structural and functional MRI measures to understanding age-related and task performance-related cognitive differences. Eleven healthy elders were compared with 11 healthy younger adults while they completed the “go” portion of a complex Go/No-go task. Separate ROI’s in the bilateral caudate (C) and putamen/globus pallidus (PGp) were studied based upon previous findings of age-related functional MRI differences in basal ganglia for this portion of the task. Structural volumes and functional activation (in percent area under the curve during correct responses) were independently extracted for these ROI’s. Results showed that age correlated with ROI volume in bilateral PGp and C, while multiple task performance measures correlated with functional activation in the left PGp. The Go/No-go task measures were also significantly correlated with traditional attention and executive functioning measures. Importantly, fMRI activation and volumes from each ROI were not significantly inter-correlated. These findings suggest that structural and functional MRI make unique contributions to the study of performance changes in aging.
PMCID: PMC2078239  PMID: 17210145
Aging; fMRI; Imaging; Executive functioning; Attention Response execution; Motor skill

Results 1-3 (3)