Individual differences in threat sensitivity predict serotonergic modulation of amygdala response to fearful faces.
ABSTRACT In this study we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the effects of acute tryptophan depletion (ATD), a well-recognised method for inducing transient cerebral serotonin depletion, on brain activation to fearful faces.
We predicted that ATD would increase the responsiveness of the amygdala to fearful faces as a function of individual variation in threat sensitivity.
Twelve healthy male volunteers received a tryptophan depleting drink or a tryptophan balancing amino acid drink (placebo) in a double-blind crossover design. Five hours after drink ingestion participants were scanned whilst viewing fearful, happy and neutral faces.
Consistent with previous findings, fearful faces induced significant signal change in the bilateral amygdala/hippocampus as well as the fusiform face area and the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Furthermore, ATD modulated amygdala/hippocampus activation in response to fearful relative to happy faces as a function of self-reported threat sensitivity (as measured with the Behavioral Inhibition Scale; Carver CS, White TL (1994) Behavioral inhibition, behavioral activation, and affective responses to impending reward and punishment: the BIS/BAS scales. J Pers Soc Psychol 67:319-333).
The data support the hypothesis that individual variation in threat sensitivity interacts with manipulation of 5-HT function to bias the processing of amygdala-dependent threat-relevant stimuli.
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ABSTRACT: The s/s-genotype of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism and the personality trait of neuroticism have both been associated with experiences of negative affect, anxiety and mood disorders, as well as an emotional processing bias towards negative facial emotions. On a neural level, this bias can be characterized by altered amygdala and fusiform gyrus (FFG) activity during perception of negative facial expressions. Using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging in a multi-center-sample of 178 healthy subjects of European descent, this study investigated the association of 5-HTTLPR (short s- and long l-allele) including the genotype of the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs25531 (A/G) within this region polymorphism, and trait neuroticism on resting-state functional connectivity (rs-FC) between amygdala and the FFG. Moreover, we aimed to identify additional brain regions with associations of 5-HTTLPR/rs25531 (combined according to its expression; low: s/s; high: lA/lA; intermediate: s/lA, s/lG, lG/lG, lA/lG) and trait neuroticism to amygdala rs-FC. Separate analyses for 5-HTTLPR/rs25531 and neuroticism (controlling for age, gender, handedness, and research site) revealed that s/s-homozygotes and individuals high in neuroticism obtained altered amygdala rs-FC in the right occipital face area, which is considered to be a "core component" of the face processing system. Importantly, effects of neuroticism were replicated across three independent research sites. Additionally, associations of 5-HTTLPR/rs25531 genotype and amygdala rs-FC were observed in the anterior and posterior cingulate cortex, whereas neuroticism was not related to rs-FC in these areas. The presented data implies that 5-HTTLPR/rs25531 variants and neuroticism are linked by resting state functional connectivity of amygdala and fusiform gyrus and suggests that variants of 5-HTTLPR/rs25531 genotype and different levels of neuroticism may partly account for altered processing of negative facial emotions.Brain Structure and Function 05/2014; DOI:10.1007/s00429-014-0782-0 · 4.57 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Effective functioning of the neurotransmitter serotonin is important for optimal cognitive and emotional function. Dietary supplements able to increase availability to the brain of the precursor amino acid, tryptophan (TRP), and thereby enhance serotonin synthesis, can have measurable impact on these psychological processes.Psychopharmacology 05/2014; DOI:10.1007/s00213-014-3609-z · 3.99 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Caffeine, an adenosine A(1) and A(2A) receptor antagonist, is the most popular psychostimulant drug in the world, but it is also anxiogenic. The neural correlates of caffeine-induced anxiety are currently unknown. This study investigated the effects of caffeine on brain regions implicated in social threat processing and anxiety. Participants were 14 healthy male non/infrequent caffeine consumers. In a double-blind placebo-controlled crossover design, they underwent blood oxygenation level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while performing an emotional face processing task 1 h after receiving caffeine (250 mg) or placebo in two fMRI sessions (counterbalanced, 1-week washout). They rated anxiety and mental alertness, and their blood pressure was measured, before and 2 h after treatment. Results showed that caffeine induced threat-related (angry/fearful faces > happy faces) midbrain-periaqueductal gray activation and abolished threat-related medial prefrontal cortex wall activation. Effects of caffeine on extent of threat-related amygdala activation correlated negatively with level of dietary caffeine intake. In concurrence with these changes in threat-related brain activation, caffeine increased self-rated anxiety and diastolic blood pressure. Caffeine did not affect primary visual cortex activation. These results are the first to demonstrate potential neural correlates of the anxiogenic effect of caffeine, and they implicate the amygdala as a key site for caffeine tolerance.Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 11/2011; 7(7):831-40. DOI:10.1093/scan/nsr058 · 5.88 Impact Factor