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.
Treatment with N-acetylcysteine (NAC) normalizes glutamate (Glu) homeostasis and prevents relapse in drug-dependent animals. However, the effect of NAC on brain Glu levels in substance-dependent humans has not yet been investigated. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H MRS) was used to investigate Glu changes in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) after a single dose of NAC in cocaine-dependent patients and normal controls. In an open-label, randomized, crossover study, 8 cocaine-dependent patients and 14 healthy controls underwent two scan sessions: one group receiving no compound and the other following a single administration of 2400 mg NAC. The Barratt Impulsiveness Scale was administered to examine the relation between dACC Glu levels and impulsivity. In the medication-free condition, Glu levels in the dACC were significantly higher in cocaine-dependent patients compared with healthy controls. After administration of NAC, Glu levels were reduced in the cocaine-dependent group, whereas NAC had no effect in healthy controls. Higher baseline Glu levels were associated with higher impulsivity, and both were predictive of greater NAC-induced Glu reduction. The current findings indicate that NAC can normalize elevated Glu levels in cocaine-dependent patients. These findings may have important implications for treatment, because abnormal Glu levels are related to relapse, and treatment with NAC prevented relapse in animal studies. Furthermore, clinical studies have indicated beneficial effects of NAC in cocaine-dependent patients, and the current study suggests that these beneficial effects might in part be mediated by the ability of NAC to normalize glutamatergic abnormalities.
cocaine dependence; N-acetylcysteine; glutamate; magnetic resonance spectroscopy; impulsivity; cocaine dependence; N-acetylcysteine; glutamate; magnetic resonance spectroscopy; impulsivity
A potentially powerful predictor for the course of drug (ab)use is the approach-bias, that is, the pre-reflective tendency to approach rather than avoid drug-related stimuli. Here we investigated the neural underpinnings of cannabis approach and avoidance tendencies. By elucidating the predictive power of neural approach-bias activations for future cannabis use and problem severity, we aimed at identifying new intervention targets. Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), neural approach-bias activations were measured with a Stimulus Response Compatibility task (SRC) and compared between 33 heavy cannabis users and 36 matched controls. In addition, associations were examined between approach-bias activations and cannabis use and problem severity at baseline and at six-month follow-up. Approach-bias activations did not differ between heavy cannabis users and controls. However, within the group of heavy cannabis users, a positive relation was observed between total lifetime cannabis use and approach-bias activations in various fronto-limbic areas. Moreover, approach-bias activations in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) independently predicted cannabis problem severity after six months over and beyond session-induced subjective measures of craving. Higher DLPFC/ACC activity during cannabis approach trials, but lower activity during cannabis avoidance trials were associated with decreases in cannabis problem severity. These findings suggest that cannabis users with deficient control over cannabis action tendencies are more likely to develop cannabis related problems. Moreover, the balance between cannabis approach and avoidance responses in the DLPFC and ACC may help identify individuals at-risk for cannabis use disorders and may be new targets for prevention and treatment.
Humans vary in their ability to delay gratification and impulsive decision making is a common feature in various psychiatric disorders. The level of delay discounting is a relatively stable psychological trait, and therefore neural processes implicated in delay discounting are likely to be based on the overall functional organization of the brain (under task-free conditions) in which state-dependent shifts from baseline levels occur. The current study investigated whether delay discounting can be predicted by intrinsic properties of brain functioning. Fourteen healthy male subjects performed a delay discounting task. In addition, resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (¹H MRS) were used to investigate the relationship between individual differences in delay discounting and molecular and regional measures of resting state (baseline) activity of dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC). Results showed that delay discounting was associated with both dACC glutamate concentrations and resting state functional connectivity of the dACC with a midbrain region including ventral tegmental area and substantia nigra. In addition, a neural pathway was established, showing that the effect of glutamate concentrations in the dACC on delay discounting is mediated by functional connectivity of the dACC with the midbrain. The current findings are important to acknowledge because spontaneous intrinsic brain processes have been proposed to be a potential promising biomarker of disease and impulsive decision making is associated with several psychiatric disorders.
Anterior cingulate cortex; delay discounting; glutamate; impulsive decision making; magnetic resonance spectroscopy; resting state fMRI
The odorous steroid compound 4,16-androstadien-3-one (androstadienone), found in axillary sweat, was previously reported to evoke hypothalamic activation in heterosexual women, but not in heterosexual men. However, subjects were exposed to the pure crystalline form of androstadienone, which raised the question whether the observed hypothalamic response is physiologically relevant. Therefore, in the present study, we asked whether sexually dimorphic hypothalamic responses could be measured when subjects were exposed to lower, more physiologically relevant concentrations of androstadienone. A total of 21 women and 16 men, all heterosexual, participated in our functional magnetic resonance imaging study (fMRI). Three different concentrations of androstadienone diluted in propylene glycol (10 mM “high,” 0.1 mM “medium” and 0.001 mM “low”) were delivered to the subjects’ nostrils using a computer-controlled stimulator. When exposed to the “high” androstadienone concentration, women showed stronger hypothalamic activation than men. By contrast, men showed more hypothalamic activation when exposed to the “medium” androstadienone concentrations in comparison to women. Thus, we replicated that smelling the chemo-signal androstadienone elicits a hypothalamic activation. However, this effect does not seem to be gender-specific, because androstadienone activated the hypothalamus in both men and women, suggesting that androstadienone exerts specific effects in heterosexual individuals of both sexes.
Stimulant dependence is associated with neuropsychological impairments. Here, we summarize and integrate the existing neuroimaging literature on the neural substrates of neuropsychological (dys)function in stimulant dependence, including cocaine, (meth-)amphetamine, ecstasy and nicotine dependence, and excessive caffeine use, comparing stimulant abusers (SAs) to nondrug using healthy controls (HCs). Despite some inconsistencies, most studies indicated altered brain activation in prefrontal cortex (PFC) and insula in response to reward and punishment, and higher limbic and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC)/PFC activation during craving and attentional bias paradigms in SAs compared with HCs. Impulsivity in SAs was associated with lower ACC and presupplementary motor area activity compared with HCs, and related to both ventral (amygdala, ventrolateral PFC, insula) and dorsal (dorsolateral PFC, dorsal ACC, posterior parietal cortex) systems. Decision making in SAs was associated with low dorsolateral PFC activity and high orbitofrontal activity. Finally, executive function in SAs was associated with lower activation in frontotemporal regions and higher activation in premotor cortex compared with HCs. It is concluded that the lower activations compared with HCs are likely to reflect the neural substrate of impaired neurocognitive functions, whereas higher activations in SAs compared with HCs are likely to reflect compensatory cognitive control mechanisms to keep behavioral task performance to a similar level as in HCs. However, before final conclusions can be drawn, additional research is needed using neuroimaging in SAs and HCs using larger and more homogeneous samples as well as more comparable task paradigms, study designs, and statistical analyses.
Addiction; fMRI; functional imaging; magnetic resonance imaging; stimulant dependence; stimulants
Sleep complaints increase profoundly with age; prevalence estimates of insomnia in the elderly reach up to 37%. The three major types of nocturnal complaints are difficulties initiating (DIS) and maintaining (DMS) sleep and early morning awakening (EMA), of which the latter appears most characteristic for aging. The neural correlates associated with these complaints have hardly been investigated, hampering the development of rational treatment and prevention. A recent study on structural brain correlates of insomnia showed that overall severity, but not duration, of insomnia complaints is associated with lower gray matter (GM) density in part of the left orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). Following up on this, we investigated, in an independent sample of people not diagnosed with insomnia, whether individual differences in GM density are associated with differences in DIS, DMS, and EMA. Sixty five healthy participants (mean age = 41 years, range 18–56) filled out questionnaires and underwent structural magnetic resonance imaging. Three compound Z-scores were computed for questionnaire items relating to DIS, DMS, and EMA. Whole-brain voxel-based morphometry was used to investigate their association with GM density. Results show that participants with lower GM density in a region where the left inferior OFC borders the insula report more EMA, but not DIS or DMS. This is the first study to investigate structural brain correlates of specific sleep characteristics that can translate into complaints in insomniacs. The selective association of EMA with orbitofrontal GM density makes our findings particularly relevant to elderly people, where EMA represents the most characteristic complaint. It is hypothesized that low GM density in aforementioned orbitofrontal area affects its role in sensing comfort. An intact ability to evaluate comfort may be crucial to maintain sleep, especially at the end of the night when sleep is vulnerable because homeostatic sleep propensity has dissipated.
insomnia; aging; early morning awakening; orbitofrontal cortex; voxel-based morphometry; structural magnetic resonance imaging
Disinhibition over drug use, enhanced salience of drug use and decreased salience of natural reinforcers are thought to play an important role substance dependence. Whether this is also true for pathological gambling is unclear. To understand the effects of affective stimuli on response inhibition in problem gamblers (PRGs), we designed an affective Go/Nogo to examine the interaction between response inhibition and salience attribution in 16 PRGs and 15 healthy controls (HCs).
Four affective blocks were presented with Go trials containing neutral, gamble, positive or negative affective pictures. The No-Go trials in these blocks contained neutral pictures. Outcomes of interest included percentage of impulsive errors and mean reaction times in the different blocks. Brain activity related to No-Go trials was assessed to measure response inhibition in the various affective conditions and brain activity related to Go trials was assessed to measure salience attribution.
PRGs made fewer errors during gamble and positive trials than HCs, but were slower during all trials types. Compared to HCs, PRGs activated the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate and ventral striatum to a greater extent while viewing gamble pictures. The dorsal lateral and inferior frontal cortex were more activated in PRGs than in HCs while viewing positive and negative pictures. During neutral inhibition, PRGs were slower but similar in accuracy to HCs, and showed more dorsolateral prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex activity. In contrast, during gamble and positive pictures PRGs performed better than HCs, and showed lower activation of the dorsolateral and anterior cingulate cortex.
This study shows that gambling-related stimuli are more salient for PRGs than for HCs. PRGs seem to rely on compensatory brain activity to achieve similar performance during neutral response inhibition. A gambling-related or positive context appears to facilitate response inhibition as indicated by lower brain activity and fewer behavioural errors in PRGs.
Neuroticism and extraversion are personality factors associated with the vulnerability for developing depression and anxiety disorders, and are possibly differentially related to brain structures implicated in the processing of emotional information and the generation of mood states. To date, studies on brain morphology mainly focused on neuroticism, a dimension primarily related to negative affect, yielding conflicting findings concerning the association with personality, partially due to methodological issues and variable population samples under study. Recently, extraversion, a dimension primarily related to positive affect, has been repeatedly inversely related to with symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders. In the present study, high resolution structural T1-weighted MR images of 65 healthy adults were processed using an optimized Voxel Based Morphometry (VBM) approach. Multiple regression analyses were performed to test for associations of neuroticism and extraversion with prefrontal and subcortical volumes. Orbitofrontal and right amygdala volume were both positively related to extraversion. Extraversion was differentially related to volume of the anterior cingulate cortex in males (positive) and females (negative). Neuroticism scores did not significantly correlate with these brain regions. As extraversion is regarded a protective factor for developing anxiety disorders and depression and has been related to the generation of positive affect, the present results indicate that the reduced likelihood of developing affective disorders in individuals high on extraversion is related to modulation of emotion processing through the orbitofrontal cortex and the amygdala.
This article reviews the neuroimaging research on pathological gambling (PG). Because of the similarities between substance dependence and PG, PG research has used paradigms similar to those used in substance use disorder research, focusing on reward and punishment sensitivity, cue reactivity, impulsivity, and decision making. This review shows that PG is consistently associated with blunted mesolimbic-prefrontal cortex activation to nonspecific rewards, whereas these areas show increased activation when exposed to gambling-related stimuli in cue exposure paradigms. Very little is known, and hence more research is needed regarding the neural underpinnings of impulsivity and decision making in PG. This review concludes with a discussion regarding the challenges and new developments in the field of neurobiological gambling research and comments on their implications for the treatment of PG.
Pathological gambling; Addiction; Neuroimaging; Neuropsychology
We evaluated the use of a mock scanner training protocol as an alternative for sedation and for preparing young children for (functional) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Children with severe mental retardation or developmental disorders were excluded. A group of 90 children (median age 6.5 years, range 3.65–14.5 years) participated in this study. Children were referred to the actual MRI investigation only when they passed the training. We assessed the pass rate of the mock scanner training sessions. In addition, the quality of both structural and functional MRI (fMRI) scans was rated on a semi-quantitative scale. The overall pass rate of the mock scanner training sessions was 85/90. Structural scans of diagnostic quality were obtained in 81/90 children, and fMRI scans with sufficient quality for further analysis were obtained in 30/43 of the children. Even in children under 7 years of age, who are generally sedated, the success rate of structural scans with diagnostic quality was 53/60. FMRI scans with sufficient quality were obtained in 23/36 of the children in this younger age group. The association between age and proportion of children with fMRI scans of sufficient quality was not statistically significant. We conclude that a mock MRI scanner training protocol can be useful to prepare children for a diagnostic MRI scan. It may reduce the need for sedation in young children undergoing MRI. Our protocol is also effective in preparing young children to participate in fMRI investigations.
MRI; Functional MRI; Mock scanner; Training protocol
Recently, both increases and decreases in resting-state functional connectivity have been found in major depression. However, these studies only assessed functional connectivity within a specific network or between a few regions of interest, while comorbidity and use of medication was not always controlled for. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to investigate whole-brain functional connectivity, unbiased by a priori definition of regions or networks of interest, in medication-free depressive patients without comorbidity. We analyzed resting-state fMRI data of 19 medication-free patients with a recent diagnosis of major depression (within 6 months before inclusion) and no comorbidity, and 19 age- and gender-matched controls. Independent component analysis was employed on the concatenated data sets of all participants. Thirteen functionally relevant networks were identified, describing the entire study sample. Next, individual representations of the networks were created using a dual regression method. Statistical inference was subsequently done on these spatial maps using voxel-wise permutation tests. Abnormal functional connectivity was found within three resting-state networks in depression: (1) decreased bilateral amygdala and left anterior insula connectivity in an affective network, (2) reduced connectivity of the left frontal pole in a network associated with attention and working memory, and (3) decreased bilateral lingual gyrus connectivity within ventromedial visual regions. None of these effects were associated with symptom severity or gray matter density. We found abnormal resting-state functional connectivity not previously associated with major depression, which might relate to abnormal affect regulation and mild cognitive deficits, both associated with the symptomatology of the disorder.
major depression; resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging; functional connectivity; independent component analysis; amygdala
Glucocorticoids (GCs, cortisol in human) are associated with impairments in declarative memory retrieval. Brain regions hypothesized to mediate these effects are the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex (PFC). Our aim was to use fMRI in localizing the effects of GCs during declarative memory retrieval. Therefore, we tested memory retrieval in 21 young healthy males in a randomized placebo-controlled crossover design. Participants encoded word lists containing neutral and emotional words 1 h prior to ingestion of 20 mg hydrocortisone. Memory retrieval was tested using an old/new recognition paradigm in a rapid event-related design. It was found that hydrocortisone decreased brain activity in both the hippocampus and PFC during successful retrieval of neutral words. These observations are consistent with previous animal and human studies suggesting that glucocorticoids modulate both hippocampal and prefrontal brain regions that are crucially involved in memory processing.
Electronic Supplementary Material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11682-007-9003-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
fMRI; Glucocorticoids; Hippocampus; Memory retrieval; PFC
NK1 receptors have been implicated in various neuropsychiatric and other disorders. R116301 is a selective NK1 receptor antagonist. In this pilot study, [11C]R116301 was evaluated as a potential positron emission tomography (PET) ligand for the NK1 receptor.
Two dynamic PET studies were performed in three normal volunteers before and after a blocking dose of aprepitant. Data were analyzed using striatum to cerebellum standardized uptake value (SUV) ratios.
Baseline SUV ratios at 60–90 min after injection ranged from 1.22 to 1.70. Following aprepitant administration, this specific signal was completely blocked. Aprepitant administration did not significantly affect uptake in cerebellum, confirming the absence of NK1 receptors in cerebellum.
These preliminary results indicate that [11C]R116301 has potential as a radioligand for in vivo assessment of NK1 receptors in the human brain.
NK1 receptor; [11C]R116301; PET; SUV
Depression frequently occurs in the elderly. Its cause is largely unknown, but several studies point to disturbances of biological rhythmicity. In both normal aging, and depression, the functioning of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is impaired, as evidenced by an increased prevalence of day-night rhythm perturbations, such as sleeping disorders. Moreover, the inhibitory SCN neurons on the hypothalamus-pituitary adrenocortical axis (HPA-axis) have decreased activity and HPA-activity is enhanced, when compared to non-depressed elderly. Using bright light therapy (BLT) the SCN can be stimulated. In addition, the beneficial effects of BLT on seasonal depression are well accepted. BLT is a potentially safe, nonexpensive and well accepted treatment option. But the current literature on BLT for depression is inconclusive.
This study aims to show whether BLT can reduce non-seasonal major depression in elderly patients. Randomized double blind placebo controlled trial in 126 subjects of 60 years and older with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD, DSM-IV/SCID-I). Subjects are recruited through referrals of psychiatric outpatient clinics and from case finding from databases of general practitioners and old-people homes in the Amsterdam region. After inclusion subjects are randomly allocated to the active (bright blue light) vs. placebo (dim red light) condition using two Philips Bright Light Energy boxes type HF 3304 per subject, from which the light bulbs have been covered with bright blue- or dim red light- permitting filters. Patients will be stratified by use of antidepressants. Prior to treatment a one-week period without light treatment will be used. At three time points several endocrinological, psychophysiological, psychometrically, neuropsychological measures are performed: just before the start of light therapy, after completion of three weeks therapy period, and three weeks thereafter.
If BLT reduces nonseasonal depression in elderly patients, then additional lightning may easily be implemented in the homes of patients to serve as add-on treatment to antidepressants or as a stand-alone treatment in elderly depressed patients. In addition, if our data support the role of a dysfunctional biological clock in depressed elderly subjects, such a finding may guide further development of novel chronobiological oriented treatment strategies.
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00332670
Recent theories posit an important role for the noradrenergic system in attentional selection in the temporal domain. In contrast, the spatially diffuse topographical projections of the noradrenergic system are inconsistent with a direct role in spatial selection.
To test the hypotheses that pharmacological attenuation of central noradrenergic activity should (1) impair performance on the attentional blink task, a task requiring the selection of targets in a rapid serial visual stream of stimuli; and (2) leave intact the efficiency of the search for a target in a two-dimensional visuospatial stimulus array.
Materials and methods
Thirty-two healthy adult human subjects performed an attentional blink task and a visual search task in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, between-subject study investigating the effects of the α2 adrenoceptor agonist clonidine (150 μg, oral dose).
No differential effects of clonidine vs placebo were found on the attentional blink performance. Clonidine slowed overall reaction times in the visual search task but did not impair the efficiency of the visual search.
The attentional blink results are inconsistent with recent theories about the role of the noradrenergic system in temporal filtering and in mediating the attentional blink. This discrepancy between theory and data is discussed in detail. The visual search results, in combination with previous findings, suggest that the noradrenergic system is not directly involved in spatial attention processes but instead can modulate these processes in an indirect fashion.
Norepinephrine; Clonidine; Locus coeruleus; Attention; Attentional blink; Visual search
Abnormal cue reactivity is a central characteristic of addiction, associated with increased activity in motivation, attention and memory related brain circuits. In this neuroimaging study, cue reactivity in problem gamblers (PRG) was compared with cue reactivity in heavy smokers (HSM) and healthy controls (HC). A functional magnetic resonance imaging event-related cue reactivity paradigm, consisting of gambling, smoking-related and neutral pictures, was employed in 17 treatment-seeking non-smoking PRG, 18 non-gambling HSM, and 17 non-gambling and non-smoking HC. Watching gambling pictures (relative to neutral pictures) was associated with higher brain activation in occipitotemporal areas, posterior cingulate cortex, parahippocampal gyrus and amygdala in PRG compared with HC and HSM. Subjective craving in PRG correlated positively with brain activation in left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and left insula. When comparing the HSM group with the two other groups, no significant differences in brain activity induced by smoking cues were found. In a stratified analysis, the HSM subgroup with higher Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence scores (FTND M = 5.4) showed higher brain activation in ventromedial prefrontal cortex, rostral anterior cingulate cortex, insula and middle/superior temporal gyrus while watching smoking-related pictures (relative to neutral pictures) than the HSM subgroup with lower FTND scores (FTND M = 2.9) and than non-smoking HC. Nicotine craving correlated with activation in left prefrontal and left amygdala when viewing smoking-related pictures in HSM. Increased regional responsiveness to gambling pictures in brain regions linked to motivation and visual processing is present in PRG, similar to neural mechanisms underlying cue reactivity in substance dependence. Increased brain activation in related fronto-limbic brain areas was present in HSM with higher FTND scores compared with HSM with lower FTND scores.
Addiction; cue reactivity; fMRI; impulse control disorder; nicotine dependence; pathological gambling
We used high-resolution fMRI to investigate claims that learning to read results in greater left occipito-temporal (OT) activation for written words relative to pictures of objects. In the first experiment, 9/16 subjects performing a one-back task showed activation in ≥1 left OT voxel for words relative to pictures (P < 0.05 uncorrected). In a second experiment, another 9/15 subjects performing a semantic decision task activated ≥1 left OT voxel for words relative to pictures. However, at this low statistical threshold false positives need to be excluded. The semantic decision paradigm was therefore repeated, within subject, in two different scanners (1.5 and 3 T). Both scanners consistently localised left OT activation for words relative to fixation and pictures relative to words, but there were no consistent effects for words relative to pictures. Finally, in a third experiment, we minimised the voxel size (1.5 × 1.5 × 1.5 mm3) and demonstrated a striking concordance between the voxels activated for words and pictures, irrespective of task (naming vs. one-back) or script (English vs. Hebrew). In summary, although we detected differential activation for words relative to pictures, these effects: (i) do not withstand statistical rigour; (ii) do not replicate within or between subjects; and (iii) are observed in voxels that also respond to pictures of objects. Our findings have implications for the role of left OT activation during reading. More generally, they show that studies using low statistical thresholds in single subject analyses should correct the statistical threshold for the number of comparisons made or replicate effects within subject. Hum Brain Mapp 2008. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
fMRI; reading; object recognition; selectivity; occipitotemporal cortex; fusiform; magnetic field strength
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) are frequently co-morbid, and dysfunctional frontal-striatal circuits have been implicated in both disorders. Neurobiological distinctions between OCD and MDD are insufficiently clear, and comparative neuroimaging studies are extremely scarce. OCD and MDD may be characterized by cognitive rigidity at the phenotype level, and frontal-striatal brain circuits constitute the neural substrate of intact cognitive flexibility. In the present study, 18 non-medicated MDD-free patients with OCD, 19 non-medicated OCD-free patients with MDD, and 29 matched healthy controls underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging during performance of a self-paced letter/digit task switching paradigm. Results showed that both patient groups responded slower relative to controls during repeat events, but only in OCD patients slowing was associated with decreased error rates. During switching, patients with OCD showed increased activation of the putamen, anterior cingulate and insula, whereas MDD patients recruited inferior parietal cortex and precuneus to a lesser extent. Patients with OCD and MDD commonly failed to reveal anterior prefrontal cortex activation during switching. This study shows subtle behavioral abnormalities on a measure of cognitive flexibility in MDD and OCD, associated with differential frontal-striatal brain dysfunction in both disorders. These findings may add to the development of biological markers that more precisely characterize frequently co-morbid neuropsychiatric disorders such as OCD and MDD.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) has been associated with biased memory formation for mood-congruent information, which may be related to altered monoamine levels. The piccolo (PCLO) gene, involved in monoaminergic neurotransmission, has previously been linked to depression in a genome-wide association study. Here, we investigated the role of the PCLO risk allele on functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) correlates of emotional memory in a sample of 89 MDD patients (64 PCLO risk allele carriers) and 29 healthy controls (18 PCLO risk allele carriers). During negative word encoding, risk allele carriers showed significant lower activity relative to non-risk allele carriers in the insula, and trend-wise in the anterior cingulate cortex and inferior frontal gyrus. Moreover, depressed risk allele carriers showed significant lower activity relative to non-risk allele carriers in the striatum, an effect which was absent in healthy controls. Finally, amygdalar response during processing new positive words vs. known words was blunted in healthy PCLO+ carriers and in MDD patients irrespective of genotype, which may indicate that signalling of salient novel information does not occur to the same extent in PCLO+ carriers and MDD patients. The PCLO risk allele may increase vulnerability for MDD by modulating local brain function with regard to responsiveness to salient stimuli (i.e. insula) and processing novel negative information. Also, depression-specific effects of PCLO on dorsal striatal activation during negative word encoding and the absence of amygdalar salience signalling for novel positive information further suggest a role of PCLO in symptom maintenance in MDD.
Motivational and cognitive abnormalities are frequently reported in pathological gambling. However, studies simultaneously investigating motivational and cognitive processing in problematic gamblers are lacking, limiting our understanding of the interplay between these systems in problematic gambling. Studies in non-clinical samples indicate that interactions between dorsal “executive” and ventral “affective” processing systems are necessary for adequate responses in various emotive situations.
We conducted a generalized Psycho-Physiological Interaction (gPPI) analysis to assess the influence of affective stimuli on changes in functional connectivity associated with response inhibition in 16 treatment seeking problematic gamblers (PRGs) and 15 healthy controls (HCs) using an affective Go-NoGo fMRI paradigm including neutral, gambling-related, positive and negative pictures as neutral and affective conditions.
Across groups, task performance accuracy during neutral inhibition trials was positively correlated with functional connectivity between the left caudate and the right middle frontal cortex. During inhibition in the gambling condition, only in PRGs accuracy of task performance was positively correlated with functional connectivity within sub-regions of the dorsal executive system. Group interactions showed that during neutral inhibition, HCs exhibited greater functional connectivity between the left caudate and occipital cortex than PRGs. In contrast, during inhibition in the positive condition, PRGs compared to HCs showed greater functional connectivity between the left caudate and occipital cortex. During inhibition trials in the negative condition, a stronger functional connectivity between the left caudate and the right anterior cingulate cortex in PRGs compared to HCs was present. There were no group interactions during inhibition in the gambling condition.
During gamble inhibition PRGs seem to benefit more from functional connectivity within the dorsal executive system than HCs, because task accuracy in this condition in PRGs is positively correlated with functional connectivity, although the groups show similar connectivity patterns during gamble inhibition. Greater functional connectivity between the ventral affective system and the dorsal executive system in PRGs in the affective conditions compared to HCs, suggests facilitation of the dorsal executive system when affective stimuli are present specifically in PRGs.
Maladaptive impulsivity is a core symptom in various psychiatric disorders. However, there is only limited evidence available on whether different measures of impulsivity represent largely unrelated aspects or a unitary construct. In a cross-species translational study, thirty rats were trained in impulsive choice (delayed reward task) and impulsive action (five-choice serial reaction time task) paradigms. The correlation between those measures was assessed during baseline performance and after pharmacological manipulations with the psychostimulant amphetamine and the norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor atomoxetine. In parallel, to validate the animal data, 101 human subjects performed analogous measures of impulsive choice (delay discounting task, DDT) and impulsive action (immediate and delayed memory task, IMT/DMT). Moreover, all subjects completed the Stop Signal Task (SST, as an additional measure of impulsive action) and filled out the Barratt impulsiveness scale (BIS-11). Correlations between DDT and IMT/DMT were determined and a principal component analysis was performed on all human measures of impulsivity. In both rats and humans measures of impulsive choice and impulsive action did not correlate. In rats the within-subject pharmacological effects of amphetamine and atomoxetine did not correlate between tasks, suggesting distinct underlying neural correlates. Furthermore, in humans, principal component analysis identified three independent factors: (1) self-reported impulsivity (BIS-11); (2) impulsive action (IMT/DMT and SST); (3) impulsive choice (DDT). This is the first study directly comparing aspects of impulsivity using a cross-species translational approach. The present data reveal the non-unitary nature of impulsivity on a behavioral and pharmacological level. Collectively, this warrants a stronger focus on the relative contribution of distinct forms of impulsivity in psychopathology.
In children who are born small for gestational age (SGA), an adverse intrauterine environment has led to underdevelopment of both the body and the brain. The delay in body growth is (partially) restored during the first two years in a majority of these children. In addition to a negative influence on these physical parameters, decreased levels of intelligence and cognitive impairments have been described in children born SGA. In this study, we used magnetic resonance imaging to examine brain anatomy in 4- to 7-year-old SGA children with and without complete bodily catch-up growth and compared them to healthy children born appropriate for gestational age. Our findings demonstrate that these children strongly differ on brain organisation when compared with healthy controls relating to both global and regional anatomical differences. Children born SGA displayed reduced cerebral and cerebellar grey and white matter volumes, smaller volumes of subcortical structures and reduced cortical surface area. Regional differences in prefrontal cortical thickness suggest a different development of the cerebral cortex. SGA children with bodily catch-up growth constitute an intermediate between those children without catch-up growth and healthy controls. Therefore, bodily catch-up growth in children born SGA does not implicate full catch-up growth of the brain.