[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The amygdala is a central target of emotion regulation. It is overactive and dysregulated in affective and anxiety disorders and amygdala activity normalizes with successful therapy of the symptoms. However, a considerable percentage of patients do not reach remission within acceptable duration of treatment. The amygdala could therefore represent a promising target for real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (rtfMRI) neurofeedback. rtfMRI neurofeedback directly improves the voluntary regulation of localized brain activity. At present, most rtfMRI neurofeedback studies have trained participants to increase activity of a target, i.e. up-regulation. However, in the case of the amygdala, down-regulation is supposedly more clinically relevant. Therefore, we developed a task that trained participants to down-regulate activity of the right amygdala while being confronted with amygdala stimulation, i.e. negative emotional faces. The activity in the functionally-defined region was used as online visual feedback in six healthy subjects instructed to minimize this signal using reality checking as emotion regulation strategy. Over a period of four training sessions, participants significantly increased down-regulation of the right amygdala compared to a passive viewing condition to control for habilitation effects. This result supports the concept of using rtfMRI neurofeedback training to control brain activity during relevant stimulation, specifically in the case of emotion, and has implications towards clinical treatment of emotional disorders.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In many patients with major depressive disorder, sleep deprivation, or wake therapy, induces an immediate but often transient antidepressant response. It is known from brain imaging studies that changes in anterior cingulate and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex activity correlate with a relief of depression symptoms. Recently, resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging revealed that brain network connectivity via the dorsal nexus (DN), a cortical area in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, is dramatically increased in depressed patients. To investigate whether an alteration in DN connectivity could provide a biomarker of therapy response and to determine brain mechanisms of action underlying sleep deprivations antidepressant effects, we examined its influence on resting state default mode network and DN connectivity in healthy humans. Our findings show that sleep deprivation reduced functional connectivity between posterior cingulate cortex and bilateral anterior cingulate cortex (Brodmann area 32), and enhanced connectivity between DN and distinct areas in right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (Brodmann area 10). These findings are consistent with resolution of dysfunctional brain network connectivity changes observed in depression and suggest changes in prefrontal connectivity with the DN as a brain mechanism of antidepressant therapy action.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2013; · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Many people routinely criticise themselves. While self-criticism is largely unproblematic for most individuals, depressed patients exhibit excessive self-critical thinking, which leads to strong negative affects. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in healthy subjects (N=20) to investigate neural correlates and possible psychological moderators of self-critical processing. Stimuli consisted of individually selected adjectives of personally negative content and were contrasted with neutral and negative non-self-referential adjectives. We found that confrontation with self-critical material yielded neural activity in regions involved in emotions (anterior insula/hippocampus-amygdala formation) and in anterior and posterior cortical midline structures (CMS), which are associated with self-referential and autobiographical memory processing. Furthermore, contrasts revealed an extended network of bilateral frontal brain areas. We suggest that the co-activation of superior and inferior lateral frontal brain regions reflects the recruitment of a frontal top-down pathway, representing cognitive reappraisal strategies for dealing with evoked negative affects. Additionally, activation of right superior frontal areas was positively associated with neuroticism and negatively associated with cognitive reappraisal. Although these findings may not be specific to negative stimuli, they support a role for clinically relevant personality traits in successful regulation of emotion during confrontation with self-critical material.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 07/2013; · 5.04 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Emotional face processing is critically modulated by the serotonergic system. For instance, emotional face processing is impaired by acute psilocybin administration, a serotonin (5-HT) 1A and 2A receptor agonist. However, the spatiotemporal brain mechanisms underlying these modulations are poorly understood. Here, we investigated the spatiotemporal brain dynamics underlying psilocybin-induced modulations during emotional face processing. Electrical neuroimaging analyses were applied to visual evoked potentials in response to emotional faces, following psilocybin and placebo administration. Our results indicate a first time period of strength (i.e., Global Field Power) modulation over the 168-189 ms poststimulus interval, induced by psilocybin. A second time period of strength modulation was identified over the 211-242 ms poststimulus interval. Source estimations over these 2 time periods further revealed decreased activity in response to both neutral and fearful faces within limbic areas, including amygdala and parahippocampal gyrus, and the right temporal cortex over the 168-189 ms interval, and reduced activity in response to happy faces within limbic and right temporo-occipital brain areas over the 211-242 ms interval. Our results indicate a selective and temporally dissociable effect of psilocybin on the neuronal correlates of emotional face processing, consistent with a modulation of the top-down control.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Chronic cocaine users consistently display neurochemical and functional alterations in brain areas involved in social cognition (e.g. medial and orbitofrontal cortex). Although social functioning plays a crucial role in the development and treatment of drug dependence, studies investigating social cognition in cocaine users are lacking. Therefore, we investigated mental perspective taking ('theory of mind') and emotional and cognitive empathy in recreational (RCU) and dependent (DCU) cocaine users. Furthermore, we related these measures to real-life indicators of social functioning. One-hundred cocaine users (69 RCU, 31 DCU) and 68 stimulant-naïve healthy controls were tested with the Multifaceted Empathy Test (MET), Movie for the Assessment of Social Cognition (MASC) and Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET). The Social Network Questionnaire was conducted to assess social network size. Furthermore, participants provided information on committed criminal offenses. RCU and DCU showed less emotional empathy compared to controls (MET), whereas cognitive empathy was not impaired (MET, RMET). Additionally, DCU made more errors in mental perspective taking (MASC). Notably, cocaine users committed more criminal offenses and displayed a smaller social network and higher cocaine use was correlated with less social contacts. Diminished mental perspective taking was tentatively correlated with more intense cocaine use as well. Finally, younger age of onset of cocaine use was associated with more pronounced empathy impairment. In conclusion, social cognition impairments in cocaine users were related to real-life social functioning and should therefore be considered in therapy and prevention strategies.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alexithymia and increased interoceptive awareness have been associated with affective disorders as well as with altered insula and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) function. Brain imaging studies have demonstrated an association between neurotransmitter function and affective disorders as well as personality traits. Here, we firstly examined the relationship between alexithymic facets as assessed with the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) and interoceptive awareness (assessed with the Body Perception Questionaire, BPQ) in eighteen healthy subjects. Secondly, we investigated their association with glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric- acid (GABA) concentrations in the left insula and the ACC using 3-Tesla proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS). Behaviorally, we found a close association between alexithymia and interoceptive awareness. Furthermore, glutamate levels in the left insula were positively associated with both alexithymia and awareness of autonomic nervous system reactivity, while GABA concentrations in ACC were selectively associated with alexithymia. Although preliminary, our results suggest that increased glutamate- mediated excitatory transmission - related to enhanced insula activity - reflects increased interoceptive awareness in alexithymia. Suppression of the unspecific emotional arousal evoked by increased awareness of bodily responses in alexithymics might thus be reflected in decreased neuronal activity mediated by increased GABA concentration in ACC.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 04/2013; · 5.04 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The survey "Datenerhebung zur Depression in der Allgemeinbevölkerung" was conducted from fall 2010 to spring 2011 on several online platforms. The results show that there is a considerable timespan between the appearance of initial symptoms of depression and the first diagnosis of a patient. Intervention at early stages of the disease can reduce a potentially long time of suffering and can lead to the successful treatment of depression. General practitioners play an important role as the link between patient and psychiatrist.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Most neuroimaging studies investigating sexual arousal in paedophilia used erotic pictures together with a blocked fMRI design and long stimulus presentation time. While this approach allows the detection of sexual arousal, it does not enable the assessment of the immediate processing of erotically salient stimuli. Our study aimed to identify neuronal networks related to the immediate processing of erotic stimuli in heterosexual male paedophiles and healthy age-matched controls. METHODS: We presented erotic pictures of prepubescent children and adults in an event related fMRI-design to eight paedophilic subjects and age-matched controls. RESULTS: Erotic pictures of females elicited more activation in the right temporal lobe, the right parietal lobe and both occipital lobes and erotic pictures of children activated the right dorsomedial prefrontal cortex in both groups. An interaction of sex, age and group was present in the right anteriolateral oribitofrontal cortex. CONCLUSIONS: Our event related study design confirmed that erotic pictures activate some of the brain regions already known to be involved in the processing of erotic pictures when these are presented in blocks. In addition, it revealed that erotic pictures of prepubescent children activate brain regions critical for choosing response strategies in both groups, and that erotically salient stimuli selectively activate a brain region in paedophilic subjects that had previously been attributed to reward and punishment, and that had been shown to be implicated in the suppression of erotic response and deception.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective: The use of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in treatment-resistant depressed patients is supported by numerous international guidelines. This study aims to describe what type of patients are actually referred to treatment with ECT.Methods: We included all patients referred to two main ECT-treatment centers in Switzerland during the period of August 2008 to February 2011. We collected data on the diagnosis, severity of illness, and the history of treatment.Results: Most of the patients (n = 104) were referred after an average of 124 weeks of an index episode of unipolar depression. The patients were severely and chronically ill and had been treated on average for more than a decade. Eighty-three percent of the patients were referred for ECT treatment for the first time.Conclusions: The surveyed practice of referral does not concur with evidence-based guidelines for the use of ECT in the treatment of depression.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Immer noch spricht nur jeder zweite Patient ausreichend auf eine erste antidepressive Therapie an. Dies trotz eines umfangreichen Therapieangebots. Eine Leitlinien-basierte Behandlung der unipolaren Depression kann zu einer deutlichen Erhöhung der Response- und Remissionsraten führen. Die im Artikel dargestellten Empfehlungen basieren auf den Behandlungsempfehlungen der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie
(SGPP), der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Angst und Depression (SGAD) sowie der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Biologische Psychiatrie (SGBP).
INFO Neurologie & Psychiatrie. 02/2013; 11(1):6-10.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Besides the influence of dopaminergic neurotransmission on negative symptoms in schizophrenia, there is evidence that alterations of serotonin (5-HT) system functioning also play a crucial role in the pathophysiology of these disabling symptoms. From post mortem and genetic studies on patients with negative symptoms a 5-HT dysfunction is documented. In addition atypical neuroleptics and some antidepressants improve negative symptoms via serotonergic action. So far no research has been done to directly clarify the association between the serotonergic functioning and the extent of negative symptoms. Therefore, we examined the status of brain 5-HT level in negative symptoms in schizophrenia by means of the loudness dependence of auditory evoked potentials (LDAEP). The LDAEP provides a well established and non-invasive in vivo marker of the central 5-HT activity. We investigated 13 patients with schizophrenia with predominant negative symptoms treated with atypical neuroleptics and 13 healthy age and gender matched controls with a 32-channel EEG. The LDAEP of the N1/P2 component was evaluated by dipole source analysis and single electrode estimation at Cz. Psychopathological parameters, nicotine use and medication were assessed to control for additional influencing factors. Schizophrenic patients showed significantly higher LDAEP in both hemispheres than controls. Furthermore, the LDAEP in the right hemisphere in patients was related to higher scores in scales assessing negative symptoms. A relationship with positive symptoms was not found. These data might suggest a diminished central serotonergic neurotransmission in patients with predominant negative symptoms.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(7):e68650. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Empathy is key for healthy social functioning and individual differences in empathy have strong implications for manifold domains of social behavior. Empathy comprises of emotional and cognitive components and may also be closely linked to sensorimotor processes, which go along with the motivation and behavior to respond compassionately to another person's feelings. There is growing evidence for local plastic change in the structure of the healthy adult human brain in response to environmental demands or intrinsic factors. Here we have investigated changes in brain structure resulting from or predisposing to empathy. Structural MRI data of 101 healthy adult females was analyzed. Empathy in fictitious as well as real-life situations was assessed using a validated self-evaluation measure. Furthermore, empathy-related structural effects were also put into the context of a functional map of the anterior insular cortex (AIC) determined by activation likelihood estimate (ALE) meta-analysis of previous functional imaging studies. We found that gray matter (GM) density in the left dorsal AIC correlates with empathy and that this area overlaps with the domain general region (DGR) of the anterior insula that is situated in-between functional systems involved in emotion-cognition, pain, and motor tasks as determined by our meta-analysis. Thus, we propose that this insular region where we find structural differences depending on individual empathy may play a crucial role in modulating the efficiency of neural integration underlying emotional, cognitive, and sensorimotor information which is essential for global empathy.
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 01/2013; 7:177. · 2.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, "ecstasy") is a recreational club drug with supposed neurotoxic effects selectively on the serotonin system. MDMA users consistently exhibit memory dysfunction but there is an ongoing debate if these deficits are induced mainly by alterations in the prefrontal or mediotemporal cortex, especially the hippocampus. Thus, we investigated the relation of verbal memory deficits with alterations of regional cerebral brain glucose metabolism (rMRGlu) in recreational MDMA users.
Brain glucose metabolism in rest was assessed using 2-deoxy-2-((18)F)fluoro-D-glucose positron emission tomography ((18)FDG PET) in 19 male recreational users of MDMA and 19 male drug-naïve controls. (18)FDG PET data were correlated with memory performance assessed with a German version of the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test.
As previously shown, MDMA users showed significant impairment in verbal declarative memory performance. PET scans revealed significantly decreased rMRGlu in the bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal and inferior parietal cortex, bilateral thalamus, right hippocampus, right precuneus, right cerebellum, and pons (at the level of raphe nuclei) of MDMA users. Among MDMA users, learning and recall were positively correlated with rMRGlu predominantly in bilateral frontal and parietal brain regions, while recognition was additionally related to rMRGlu in the right mediotemporal and bihemispheric lateral temporal cortex. Moreover, cumulative lifetime dose of MDMA was negatively correlated with rMRGlu in the left dorsolateral and bilateral orbital and medial PFC, left inferior parietal and right lateral temporal cortex.
Verbal learning and recall deficits of recreational MDMA users are correlated with glucose hypometabolism in prefrontal and parietal cortex, while word recognition was additionally correlated with mediotemporal hypometabolism. We conclude that memory deficits of MDMA users arise from combined fronto-parieto-mediotemporal dysfunction.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(4):e61234. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The deterioration of performance over time is characteristic for sustained attention tasks. This so-called "performance decrement" is measured by the increase of reaction time (RT) over time. Some behavioural and neurobiological mechanisms of this phenomenon are not yet fully understood. Behaviourally, we examined the increase of RT over time and the inter-individual differences of this performance decrement. On the neurophysiological level, we investigated the task-relevant brain areas where neural activity was modulated by RT and searched for brain areas involved in good performance (i.e. participants with no or moderate performance decrement) as compared to poor performance (i.e. participants with a steep performance decrement). For this purpose, 20 healthy, young subjects performed a carefully designed task for simple sustained attention, namely a low-demanding version of the Rapid Visual Information Processing task. We employed a rapid event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) design. The behavioural results showed a significant increase of RT over time in the whole group, and also revealed that some participants were not as prone to the performance decrement as others. The latter was statistically significant comparing good versus poor performers. Moreover, high BOLD-responses were linked to longer RTs in a task-relevant bilateral fronto-cingulate-insular-parietal network. Among these regions, good performance was associated with significantly higher RT-BOLD correlations in the pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA). We concluded that the task-relevant bilateral fronto-cingulate-insular-parietal network was a cognitive control network responsible for goal-directed attention. The pre-SMA in particular might be associated with the performance decrement insofar that good performers could sustain activity in this brain region in order to monitor performance declines and adjust behavioural output.
Brain and Cognition 12/2012; 81(2):193-202. · 2.82 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Manische Syndrome zählen zu den eindrucksvollsten Störungsbildern in der Psychiatrie. Das expansive Verhalten des Manikers stellt grosse Herausforderungen an das klinische Behandlungsteam und führt nicht selten zur Anwendung von Zwangsmassnahmen. Im Folgenden soll ein kurzer Überblick über die neurobiologischen Grundlagen, die Diagnostik und die Behandlung der Manie gegeben werden.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Rhythm is a central characteristic of music and speech, the most important domains of human communication using acoustic signals. Here, we investigated how rhythmical patterns in music are processed in the human brain, and, in addition, evaluated the impact of musical training on rhythm processing. Using fMRI, we found that deviations from a rule-based regular rhythmic structure activated the left planum temporale together with Broca's area and its right-hemispheric homolog across subjects, that is, a network also crucially involved in the processing of harmonic structure in music and the syntactic analysis of language. Comparing the BOLD responses to rhythmic variations between professional jazz drummers and musical laypersons, we found that only highly trained rhythmic experts show additional activity in left-hemispheric supramarginal gyrus, a higher-order region involved in processing of linguistic syntax. This suggests an additional functional recruitment of brain areas usually dedicated to complex linguistic syntax processing for the analysis of rhythmical patterns only in professional jazz drummers, who are especially trained to use rhythmical cues for communication.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Sleep deprivation (wake therapy) provides rapid clinical relief in many patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). Changes in glutamatergic neurotransmission may contribute to the antidepressant response, yet the exact underlying mechanisms are unknown. Metabotropic glutamate receptors of subtype 5 (mGluR5) are importantly involved in modulating glutamatergic neurotransmission and neuronal plasticity. The density of these receptors is reduced in the brain of patients with MDD, particularly in brain structures involved in regulating wakefulness and sleep. We hypothesized that prolonged wakefulness would increase mGluR5 availability in human brain. METHODS: Metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 5 binding was quantified with positron emission tomography in 22 young healthy men who completed two experimental blocks separated by 1 week. Two positron emission tomography examinations were conducted in randomized, crossover fashion with the highly selective radioligand, (11)C-ABP688, once after 9 hours (sleep control) and once after 33 hours (sleep deprivation) of controlled wakefulness. (11)C-ABP688 uptake was quantified in 13 volumes of interest with high mGluR5 expression and presumed involvement in sleep-wake regulation. RESULTS: Sleep deprivation induced a global increase in mGluR5 binding when compared with sleep control (p<.006). In anterior cingulate cortex, insula, medial temporal lobe, parahippocampal gyrus, striatum, and amygdala, this increase correlated significantly with the sleep deprivation-induced increase in subjective sleepiness. CONCLUSIONS: This molecular imaging study demonstrates that cerebral functional mGluR5 availability is increased after a single night without sleep. Given that mGluR5 density is reduced in MDD, further research is warranted to examine whether this mechanism is involved in the potent antidepressant effect of wake therapy.