Reduced Emotion Processing Efficiency in Healthy Males Relative to Females.
ABSTRACT This study examined sex differences in categorization of facial emotions and in activation of brain regionssupportive of those classifications. In Experiment 1, performance on the Facial Emotion Perception Test (FEPT) was examined among 75 healthy females and 63 healthy males. Females were more accurate in the categorization of fearful expressions relative to males. In Experiment 2, 3T fMRI data were acquired for a separate sample of 21 healthy females and 17 healthy males while performing the FEPT. Activation to neutral facial expressions was subtracted from activation to sad, angry, fearful, and happy facial expressions, respectively. Althoughfemales and males demonstrated activation in some overlapping regions for all emotions, many regions were exclusive to females or to males. For anger,sad, and happy, males displayed a larger extent of activation than did females, and greater height of activation was detected in diffuse cortical and subcorticalregions. For fear, males displayed greater activation than females only in right postcentral gyri. With one exception in females, performance was not associated with activation. Results suggest that females and males process emotions using different neural pathways, and these differences cannot be explained by performance variations.
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ABSTRACT: Recent neurofunctional studies suggested that lateral prefrontal cortex is a domain-general cognitive control area modulating computation of social information. Neuropsychological evidence reported dissociations between cognitive and affective components of social cognition. Here, we tested whether performance on social cognitive and affective tasks can be modulated by transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). To this aim, we compared the effects of tDCS on explicit recognition of emotional facial expressions (affective task), and on one cognitive task assessing the ability to adopt another person's visual perspective. In a randomized, cross-over design, male and female healthy participants performed the two experimental tasks after bi-hemispheric tDCS (sham, left anodal/right cathodal, and right anodal/left cathodal) applied over DLPFC. Results showed that only in male participants explicit recognition of fearful facial expressions was significantly faster after anodal right/cathodal left stimulation with respect to anodal left/cathodal right and sham stimulations. In the visual perspective taking task, instead, anodal right/cathodal left stimulation negatively affected both male and female participants' tendency to adopt another's point of view. These findings demonstrated that concurrent facilitation of right and inhibition of left lateral prefrontal cortex can speed-up males' responses to threatening faces whereas it interferes with the ability to adopt another's viewpoint independently from gender. Thus, stimulation of cognitive control areas can lead to different effects on social cognitive skills depending on the affective vs. cognitive nature of the task, and on the gender-related differences in neural organization of emotion processing.PLoS ONE 05/2015; 10(5):e0126448. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0126448 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Objectives Emotion processing, supported by fronto-limbic circuitry known to be sensitive to the effects of aging, is a relatively understudied cognitive-emotional domain in geriatric depression. Some evidence suggests that the neurophysiological disruption observed in emotion processing among adults with major depressive disorder (MDD) may be modulated by both gender and age. Therefore, the present study investigated the effects of gender and age on the neural circuitry supporting emotion processing in MDD. Design Cross-sectional comparison of fMRI signal during performance of an emotion processing task. Setting Outpatient university setting. Participants One hundred adults recruited by MDD status, gender, and age. Measurements Participants underwent fMRI while completing the Facial Emotion Perception Test (FEPT). They viewed photographs of faces and categorized the emotion perceived. Contrast for fMRI was of face perception minus animal identification blocks. Results Effects of depression were observed in precuneus and effects of age in a number of fronto-limbic regions. Three-way interactions were present between MDD status, gender, and age in regions pertinent to emotion processing, including frontal, limbic and basal ganglia. Young women with MDD and older men with MDD exhibited hyperactivation in these regions compared to their respective same-gender healthy comparison (HC) counterparts. In contrast, older women and younger men with MDD exhibited hypoactivation compared to their respective same-gender HC counterparts. Conclusions This the first study to report gender- and age-specific differences in emotion processing circuitry in MDD. Gender-differential mechanisms may underlie cognitive-emotional disruption in older adults with MDD. The present findings have implications for improved probes into the heterogeneity of the MDD syndrome.American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 05/2014; 23(3). DOI:10.1016/j.jagp.2014.05.007 · 3.52 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Objective Verbal memory difficulties are common among individuals with late-life depression (LLD), though there is limited knowledge about disruptions to underlying cerebral circuitry. The purpose of this study is to examine aberrations to cerebral networks implicated in encoding novel verbal semantic material among older adults with LLD. Methods Twenty-four older adults with early-onset LLD and 23 non-depressed comparisons participated in the study. Participants completed a word list-learning task while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging. ResultsIn the context of equivalent recall and recognition of words following scanning and similar hippocampal volumes, patients with LLD exhibited less activation in structures known to be relevant for new learning and memory, including hippocampus, parahippocampal gyrus, insula, and cingulate, relative to non-ill comparisons. An important region in which the LLD group displayed greater activation than the non-depressed comparison group was in left inferior frontal gyrus, an area involved in cognitive control and controlled semantic/phonological retrieval and analysis; this region may be critical for LLD patients to consolidate encoded words into memory. Conclusions Functional irregularities found in LLD patients may reflect different modes of processing to-be-remembered information and/or early changes predictive of incipient cognitive decline. Future studies might consider mechanisms that could contribute to these functional differences, including hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis functioning and vascular integrity, and utilize longitudinal designs in order to understand whether functional changes are predictive of incipient cognitive decline. Copyright (c) 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 11/2014; 29(11). DOI:10.1002/gps.4165 · 3.09 Impact Factor