Deficits in lentiform nucleus volume and morphometry are implicated in a number of genetically influenced disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, and ADHD. Here we performed genome-wide searches to discover common genetic variants associated with differences in lentiform nucleus volume in human populations. We assessed structural MRI scans of the brain in two large genotyped samples: the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI; N = 706) and the Queensland Twin Imaging Study (QTIM; N = 639). Statistics of association from each cohort were combined meta-analytically using a fixed-effects model to boost power and to reduce the prevalence of false positive findings. We identified a number of associations in and around the flavin-containing monooxygenase (FMO) gene cluster. The most highly associated SNP, rs1795240, was located in the FMO3 gene; after meta-analysis, it showed genome-wide significant evidence of association with lentiform nucleus volume (P
= 4.79 × 10−8). This commonly-carried genetic variant accounted for 2.68 % and 0.84 % of the trait variability in the ADNI and QTIM samples, respectively, even though the QTIM sample was on average 50 years younger. Pathway enrichment analysis revealed significant contributions of this gene to the cytochrome P450 pathway, which is involved in metabolizing numerous therapeutic drugs for pain, seizures, mania, depression, anxiety, and psychosis. The genetic variants we identified provide replicated, genome-wide significant evidence for the FMO gene cluster’s involvement in lentiform nucleus volume differences in human populations.
Working memory (Work-Mem), the capacity to hold and manipulate information, activates the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), especially its caudal subregion. Impaired Work-Mem and structural and functional abnormalities of the ACC are reported in schizophrenia. This study aims to elucidate the pathogenesis of Work-Mem dysfunction in schizophrenia by comparing metabolite concentrations across ACC subregions. This retrospective study of 18 schizophrenia cases and 10 matched controls used proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging ((1)H-MRSI, TR/TE = 1800/35 ms, 0.5 cm(3) spatial resolution) to test whether the Work-Mem Index of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, third edition is associated with differences in the rostral to caudal ACC ratios of N-acetylaspartate (NAA) and creatine (Cr). Higher caudal:rostral ACC Cr (but not NAA) concentrations were associated with decreased Work-Mem Index in cases (r = -0.6, p = 0.02), with a similar trend in controls (r = -0.56, p = 0.10), although caudal:rostral ACC Cr correlated with NAA in cases and controls (r = 0.67 and 0.62, p < 0.05 for both). NAA and Cr ratios did not correlate with myo-inositol, excluding gliosis as the underlying process. Subjects' sex and age had no effects on these relationships. The findings suggest that rostral ACC energy hypo-metabolism, possibly arising from neurodevelopmental processes, is associated with working memory impairment in schizophrenia. Changes in the rostral (not the expected caudal) subregion underscore the interconnections between the ACC subregions and may offer laboratory markers for treatment trials, etiology studies, and perhaps even enhanced identification of prodromal "at risk" subjects.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death and disability in children, yet little is known regarding the pattern of TBI-related microstructural change and its impact on subsequent development. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was used to examine between-group differences at two time points (planned intervals of 3 months and 18 months post-injury) and within-group longitudinal change in a group of children and adolescents aged 7-17 years with moderate-to-severe TBI (n = 20) and a comparison group of children with orthopedic injury (OI) (n = 21). In the 3- and 18-month cross-sectional analyses, tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) generally revealed decreased fractional anisotropy (FA) and increased apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) in the TBI group in regions of frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital white matter as well as several deep subcortical structures, though areas of FA decrease were more prominent at the 3-month assessment, and areas of ADC increase were more prominent at the 18 month assessment, particularly in the frontal regions. In terms of the within-group changes over time, the OI group demonstrated primarily diffuse increases in FA over time, consistent with previous findings of DTI-measured white matter developmental change. The TBI group demonstrated primarily regions of FA decrease and ADC increase over time, consistent with presumed continued degenerative change, though regions of ADC decrease were also appreciated. These results suggest that TBI-related microstructural changes are dynamic in children and continue until at least 18 months post-injury. Understanding the course of these changes in DTI metrics may be important in TBI for facilitating advances in management and intervention.
Differences in brain metabolism as measured by FDG-PET in prodromal and early Alzheimer's disease (AD) have been consistently observed, with a characteristic parietotemporal hypometabolic pattern. However, exploration of brain metabolic correlates of more nuanced measures of cognitive function has been rare, particularly in larger samples. We analyzed the relationship between resting brain metabolism and memory and executive functioning within diagnostic group on a voxel-wise basis in 86 people with AD, 185 people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and 86 healthy controls (HC) from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). We found positive associations within AD and MCI but not in HC. For MCI and AD, impaired executive functioning was associated with reduced parietotemporal metabolism, suggesting a pattern consistent with known AD-related hypometabolism. These associations suggest that decreased metabolic activity in the parietal and temporal lobes may underlie the executive function deficits in AD and MCI. For memory, hypometabolism in similar regions of the parietal and temporal lobes were significantly associated with reduced performance in the MCI group. However, for the AD group, memory performance was significantly associated with metabolism in frontal and orbitofrontal areas, suggesting the possibility of compensatory metabolic activity in these areas. Overall, the associations between brain metabolism and cognition in this study suggest the importance of parietal and temporal lobar regions in memory and executive function in the early stages of disease and an increased importance of frontal regions for memory with increasing impairment.
Although [(18)F]fluoro-L: -dopa [FDOPA] positron emission tomography (PET) has been used as a surrogate outcome measure in Parkinson's disease therapeutic trials, this biomarker has not been proven to reflect clinical status longitudinally. We completed a retrospective analysis of relationships between computerized sampling of motor performance, FDOPA PET, and clinical outcome scales, repeated over 4 years, in 26 Parkinson's disease (PD) patients and 11 healthy controls. Mixed effects analyses showed that movement time and tongue strength best differentiated PD from control subjects. In the treated PD cohort, motor performance measures changed gradually in contrast to a steady decline in striatal FDOPA uptake. Prolonged reaction and movement time were related to lower caudate nucleus FDOPA uptake, and abnormalities in hand fine force control were related to mean striatal FDOPA uptake. These findings provide evidence that regional loss of nigrostriatal inputs to frontostriatal networks affects specific aspects of motor function.
The "Emotional Numbing" (EN) constitutes one of the core symptoms in PTSD although its exact nature remains elusive. This disorder shows an abnormal response of cortical and limbic regions which are normally involved in understanding emotions since the very earliest stages of the development of processing ability. The aim of our study, which included ten physically healthy subjects with PTSD, diagnosed according to DSM-IV-TR, who survived L'Aquila earthquake of April 6, 2009, and 10 healthy controls matching for age, sex and education, was to examine automatic perceptual sensitivity to facial affect in PTSD, through an affective priming task that was administered during functional magnetic resonance (fMRI). Behavioural data revealed in the PTSD group a higher sensitivity to negative facial affect on an automatic processing level. FMRI data analysis revealed that PTSD subjects showed a significantly higher activation in right insula and left amygdala that we did not observe in healthy subjects; on the contrary, healthy controls showed a greater activation of left lingual gyrus. Our data support the hypothesis that PTSD appears to be sensitive to negative affect on an automatic processing level and correlates with the activation of specific areas involved in processing emotions. An elevated activation of these areas may underlie the emotion dysregulation in PTSD and could explain the Emotional Numbing symptom associated with this disorder. The present study suffers of a number of limitations, for instance, the relatively small sample size did not allow the application of alternative statistical models.
This article summarizes a special series of articles from The Advanced Psychometric Methods in Cognitive Aging Research conference, held in June, 2011 at Friday Harbor, Washington. This conference used data from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) to address cognitive change associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and how it related to neuroimaging, genetic, and cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers. The 13 articles in this series present innovative approaches to measuring cognition and studying determinants of cognitive decline in AD.
Patients with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS) represent a population at high risk for developing schizophrenia, as well as learning disabilities. Deficits in visuo-spatial memory are thought to underlie some of the cognitive disabilities. Neuronal substrates of visuo-spatial memory include the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF) and the inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF), two tracts that comprise the ventral visual stream. Diffusion Tensor Magnetic Resonance Imaging (DT-MRI) is an established method to evaluate white matter (WM) connections in vivo. DT-MRI scans of nine 22q11.2DS young adults and nine matched healthy subjects were acquired. Tractography of the IFOF and the ILF was performed. DT-MRI indices, including Fractional anisotropy (FA, measure of WM changes), axial diffusivity (AD, measure of axonal changes) and radial diffusivity (RD, measure of myelin changes) of each of the tracts and each group were measured and compared. The 22q11.2DS group showed statistically significant reductions of FA in IFOF in the left hemisphere. Additionally, reductions of AD were found in the IFOF and the ILF in both hemispheres. These findings might be the consequence of axonal changes, which is possibly due to fewer, thinner, or less organized fibers. No changes in RD were detected in any of the tracts delineated, which is in contrast to findings in schizophrenia patients where increases in RD are believed to be indicative of demyelination. We conclude that reduced axonal changes may be key to understanding the underlying pathology of WM leading to the visuo-spatial phenotype in 22q11.2DS.
This study investigated three-dimensional (3D) texture as a possible diagnostic marker of Alzheimer's disease (AD). T1-weighted magnetic resonance (MR) images were obtained from 17 AD patients and 17 age and gender-matched healthy controls. 3D texture features were extracted from the circular 3D ROIs placed using a semi-automated technique in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex. We found that classification accuracies based on texture analysis of the ROIs varied from 64.3% to 96.4% due to different ROI selection, feature extraction and selection options, and that most 3D texture features selected were correlated with the mini-mental state examination (MMSE) scores. The results indicated that 3D texture could detect the subtle texture differences between tissues in AD patients and normal controls, and texture features of MR images in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex might be related to the severity of AD cognitive impairment. These results suggest that 3D texture might be a useful aid in AD diagnosis.
Children prenatally exposed to tobacco exhibit higher rates of learning and emotional-behavioral problems related to worse working memory performance. Brain function, however, among tobacco exposed children while performing a working memory task has not previously been examined. This study compared the brain function of tobacco-exposed (n = 7) and unexposed (n = 11) 12-year-olds during a number N-back working memory task using an event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) design. Prenatal alcohol exposure, neonatal medical problems, environmental risk, and sex were statistically controlled. Tobacco-exposed children showed greater activation in inferior parietal regions, whereas unexposed children showed greater activation in inferior frontal regions. These differences were observed in the context of correct responses, suggesting that exposed and unexposed children use different brain regions and approaches to succeed in working memory tasks. Implications for future research and intervention are discussed.
Patients with schizophrenia exhibit deficient response monitoring as indexed by blunted activation of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and functionally related regions during error commission. This pattern may reflect heritable alterations of dACC function. We examined whether the hypofunctional 677C>T variant in MTHFR, a candidate schizophrenia risk gene, contributed to our previous findings of blunted error-related dACC activation and reduced microstructural integrity of dACC white matter. Eighteen medicated outpatients with schizophrenia underwent diffusion tensor imaging and performed an antisaccade paradigm during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). T allele carriers exhibited significantly less error-related activation than C/C patients in bilateral dACC and substantia nigra, regions that are thought to mediate dopamine-dependent error-based reinforcement learning. T carrier patients also showed significantly lower fractional anisotropy in bilateral dACC. These findings suggest that the MTHFR 677T allele blunts response monitoring in schizophrenia, presumably via effects on dopamine signaling and dACC white matter microstructural integrity.
The N170 face repetition effect has been proposed to reflect early identity processing that underlies the acquisition of familiarity for novel faces. It was reported that the N170 face repetition effect was lateralized to the right hemisphere. Since it has been postulated that reduced or reversed brain asymmetry may be importantly related to schizophrenia pathology, the present study examined whether or not male patients with chronic schizophrenia show reduced or reversed asymmetry in the N170 face repetition effect. Seventeen male schizophrenia patients and 13 male healthy controls participated. Event-related potentials were recorded to unrepeated and repeated faces. Patients with schizophrenia showed a bilateral N170 reduction to repeated and unrepeated faces compared to healthy subjects (F[1,28] = 8.01, p = 0.009). Schizophrenia patients showed a significant decrease in N170 amplitude to repeated faces at the left occipitotemporal electrode (t = 2.91, p = 0.01), whereas healthy subjects showed a significant decrease at the right occipitotemporal electrode (t = 2.36, p = 0.04). These results suggest abnormal asymmetry of the N170 face repetition effect in schizophrenia.
We will review converging evidence that language related symptoms of the schizophrenic syndrome such as auditory verbal hallucinations arise at least in part from processing abnormalities in posterior language regions. These language regions are either adjacent to or overlapping with regions in the (posterior) temporal cortex and temporo-parietal occipital junction that are part of a system for processing social cognition, emotion, and self representation or agency. The inferior parietal and posterior superior temporal regions contain multi-modal representational systems that may also provide rapid feedback and feed-forward activation to unimodal regions such as auditory cortex. We propose that the over-activation of these regions could not only result in erroneous activation of semantic and speech (auditory word) representations, resulting in thought disorder and voice hallucinations, but could also result in many of the other symptoms of schizophrenia. These regions are also part of the so-called "default network", a network of regions that are normally active; and their activity is also correlated with activity within the hippocampal system.
An Inattentive/Overactive (I/O) behavioral phenotype has been reported in a significant percentage of children raised from birth in orphanages. While a number of studies have identified both functional and structural brain abnormalities in children raised from birth in orphanages, no published studies have evaluated potential neural correlates of the I/O phenotype. We applied diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to 15 pre-teen children raised in orphanages in Eastern Europe or Asia and later adopted to the US. Fiber tracts were constructed from DTI data using probabilistic fiber tracking and the cortical fiber distribution of fibers originating from the head of the caudate was compared between the early deprivation (ED) group and 12 age-matched controls. The ED group showed a more diffuse connectivity pattern, especially in the right hemisphere, potentially related to incomplete neuronal pruning during development. These structural abnormalities may be associated with inattention and overactivity encountered in children with ED.
MRI is a powerful tool to evaluate brain anatomy and function in normal children and its use in research applications has steadily increased. As imaging technology improves, and sensitivity to brain pathology increases, unanticipated (and potentially clinically important) findings on research neuroimaging studies will also increase. We evaluated the prevalence and type of unanticipated and potentially clinically significant imaging findings in a group of 114 normal children enrolled in an ongoing MRI imaging study of normal brain development for the Pediatric Functional Neuroimaging Research Network. Brain imaging findings were classified using standardized scales developed for the Network and findings were reported to participants and their primary healthcare provider according to a standard reporting pathway. Classification scales, reporting processes, and illustrated examples of findings are included and discussed. Unanticipated imaging findings were identified in approximately 12.5 % of children participating in this study.
The purpose of this study was to identify areas of abnormal white matter microstructure in adolescents with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Fractional anisotropy (FA) values representing preferential diffusivity along major tracts were examined using tract-based spatial statistics across the whole brain in adolescents ages 13-19 with MDD (n = 31) compared with demographically-matched healthy controls (n = 31). We not only examined frontal lobe tracts that have been most frequently identified as abnormal in previous DTI studies of older depressed patients, but also tested for FA group differences across the whole brain to determine if adolescent depression was related to any other regional white matter abnormality. MDD-diagnosed adolescents had significantly lower FA in many regions concentrated predominantly in the frontal lobe. There also was strong evidence for lower FA in bilateral anterior/posterior limbs of the internal capsules, as well as tracts through the midbrain, left external capsule, right thalamic radiation and left inferior longitudinal fasciculus. Consistent with previous findings in depressed young and elderly adults, the current study found evidence for abnormal microstructure in white matter connections of the frontal lobe in MDD adolescents. There also was strong evidence for FA abnormalities in corpus callosum genu, internal and external capsule tracts, thalamus and midbrain, notable for both the relative magnitude of these effects and absence from most previous white matter studies of depression. These abnormalities might represent important markers of early life-onset depression.
Several reports show that traumatic brain injury (TBI) results in abnormalities in the coordinated activation among brain regions. Because most previous studies examined moderate/severe TBI, the extensiveness of functional connectivity abnormalities and their relationship to postconcussive complaints or white matter microstructural damage are unclear in mild TBI. This study characterized widespread injury effects on multiple integrated neural networks typically observed during a task-unconstrained "resting state" in mild TBI patients. Whole brain functional connectivity for twelve separate networks was identified using independent component analysis (ICA) of fMRI data collected from thirty mild TBI patients mostly free of macroscopic intracerebral injury and thirty demographically-matched healthy control participants. Voxelwise group comparisons found abnormal mild TBI functional connectivity in every brain network identified by ICA, including visual processing, motor, limbic, and numerous circuits believed to underlie executive cognition. Abnormalities not only included functional connectivity deficits, but also enhancements possibly reflecting compensatory neural processes. Postconcussive symptom severity was linked to abnormal regional connectivity within nearly every brain network identified, particularly anterior cingulate. A recently developed multivariate technique that identifies links between whole brain profiles of functional and anatomical connectivity identified several novel mild TBI abnormalities, and represents a potentially important new tool in the study of the complex neurobiological sequelae of TBI.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the relations between regional white matter signal abnormalities (WMSA) and cognitive functioning among individuals being treated for cardiovascular risk factors and/or clinical events. Forty-one participants with cardiovascular disease underwent a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment and MRI. Total WMSAs were quantified using a semi-automated thresholding technique. Unique to this study, total WMSA volume was divided into three separate anatomically related regions: WMSA in the periventricular (PERIWMSA) region, WMSA adjacent to subcortical nuclei (SUBWMSA), and WMSA in the deep white matter (DEEPWMSA). A ratio of these measures to total cerebral brain volume was compared to cognitive measures assessing attention, executive functioning, psychomotor speed, immediate and delayed memory, language, and visuospatial functioning. PERIWMSA, SUBWMSA, and total WMSA were significantly associated with performance on measures of attention/processing speed. No other significant relationships between WMSA and cognition were noted. Secondary analyses suggested that PERIWMSA volume was increased in individuals with clinical evidence of atherosclerosis. These results emphasize the utility of studying the associations between regional WMSA and cognitive/functional performance in patients undergoing cardiovascular treatment.
Though cortical abnormalities have been demonstrated in moderate and severe traumatic brain injured (TBI) patients, there have been no studies examining cortical changes following blast related mild TBI (mTBI). The purpose of this study was to determine the effects and functional relevance of blast mTBI on cortical thickness in a small cohort of carefully screened blast injured US Service Members (SM). Twelve SM with mTBI acquired through blast injury were compared to 11 demographically matched control SM without TBI. Both mTBI and control participants were active duty and had completed a combat deployment. Subjects underwent MRI examination and the T1 weighted anatomic images were processed using the FreeSurfer suite of tools. Cortical thickness maps were compared between groups and examined for relationships with time since injury (TSI). Utilizing a large database of functional imaging results (BrainMap), significant regions of interest (ROI) were used to determine the behavioral profiles most consistently associated with the specific ROI. In addition, clinical variables were examined as part of post-hoc analysis of functional relevance. Group comparisons controlling for age demonstrated several significant clusters of cortical thinning for the blast injured SM. After multiple comparisons correction (False Discovery Rate (FDR)), two left hemisphere clusters remained significant (left superior temporal (STG) and frontal (SFG) gyri). No clusters were significantly correlated with TSI after FDR correction. Behavioral analysis for the STG and SFG clusters demonstrated three significant behavioral/cognitive sub-domains, each associated with audition and language. Blast injured SMs demonstrated distinct areas of cortical thinning in the STG and SFG. These areas have been previously shown to be associated with audition and language. Post-hoc analyses of clinical records demonstrated significant abnormal audiology reports for the blast injured SM suggesting that the thinning in these ROIs might be related to injury to the external auditory system rather than direct injury to the brain from the blast. It is clear that additional replication is needed in much larger cohorts. Importantly, the combination of imaging tools and methods in this study successfully demonstrated the potential to define unique ROIs and functional correlates that can be used to design future studies.
To achieve greater understanding of the brain mechanisms underlying nicotine craving in female smokers, we examined the influence of nicotine non-abstinence vs. acute nicotine abstinence on cue-elicited activation of the ventral striatum. Eight female smokers underwent an event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) paradigm presenting randomized sequences of smoking-related and non-smoking related pictures. Participants were asked to indicate by a key press the gender of individuals in smoking-related and non-smoking related pictures (gender discrimination task), to maintain and evaluate attention to the pictures. There was a significant effect of smoking condition on reaction times (RT) for a gender discrimination task intended to assess and maintain attention to the photographs-suggesting a deprivation effect of acute nicotine abstinence and a statistical trend indicating greater RTs for smoking cues than neutral cues. BOLD contrast (smoking vs. non-smoking cues) was greater in the non-abstinent vs. acutely abstinent conditions in the ventral striatum including the nucleus accumbens (VS/NAc). Moreover, a significant positive correlation was observed between baseline cigarette craving prior to scanning and VS/NAc activation (r=0.84, p=0.009), but only in the non-abstinent condition. These results may either be explained by ceiling effects of nicotine withdrawal in the abstinent condition or, may indicate reduced relative activation (smoking vs. neutral contrast) in the VS/NAc in the abstinent vs. non-abstinent conditions in this group of female smokers.
Visuospatial construction ability as used in drawing complex figures is commonly impaired in chronic alcoholics, but memory for such information can be enhanced by use of a holistic drawing strategy during encoding. We administered the Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure Test (ROCFT) to 41 alcoholic and 38 control men and women and assessed the contribution of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) measures of integrity of selected white matter tracts to ROCFT copy accuracy, copy strategy, and recall accuracy. Although alcoholics copied the figure less accurately than controls, a more holistic strategy at copy was associated with better recall in both groups. Greater radial diffusivity, reflecting compromised myelin integrity, in occipital forceps and external capsule was associated with poorer copy accuracy in both groups. Lower FA, reflecting compromised fiber microstructure in the inferior cingulate bundle, which links frontal and medial temporal episodic memory systems, was associated with piecemeal copy strategy and poorer immediate recall in the alcoholics. The correlations were generally modest and should be considered exploratory. To the extent that the inferior cingulate was relatively spared in alcoholics, it may have provided an alternative pathway to the compromised frontal system for successful copy strategy and, by extension, aided recall.
Dopamine D2 receptors mediate the rewarding effects of many drugs of abuse. In humans, several polymorphisms in DRD2, the gene encoding these receptors, increase our genetic risk for developing addictive disorders. Here, we examined one of the most frequently studied candidate variant for addiction in DRD2 for association with brain structure. We tested whether this variant showed associations with regional brain volumes across two independent elderly cohorts, totaling 1,032 subjects. We first examined a large sample of 738 elderly participants with neuroimaging and genetic data from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI1). We hypothesized that this addiction-related polymorphism would be associated with structural brain differences in regions previously implicated in familial vulnerability for drug dependence. Then, we assessed the generalizability of our findings by testing this polymorphism in a non-overlapping replication sample of 294 elderly subjects from a continuation of the first ADNI project (ADNI2) to minimize the risk of reporting false positive results. In both cohorts, the minor allele-previously linked with increased risk for addiction-was associated with larger volumes in various brain regions implicated in reward processing. These findings suggest that neuroanatomical phenotypes associated with familial vulnerability for drug dependence may be partially mediated by DRD2 genotype.
Previously, studies have demonstrated cortical impairments in those who complete or attempt suicide. Subcortical nuclei have less often been implicated in the suicidal vulnerability. In the present study, we investigated, with a specific design in a large population, variations in the volume of subcortical structures in patients with mood disorders who have attempted suicide. We recruited 253 participants: 73 suicide attempters with a past history of both mood disorders and suicidal act, 89 patient controls with a past history of mood disorders but no history of suicidal act, and 91 healthy controls. We collected 1.5 T magnetic resonance imaging data from the caudate, pallidum, putamen, nucleus accumbens, hippocampus, amygdala, ventral diencephalon, and thalamus. Surface-based morphometry (Freesurfer) analysis was used to comprehensively evaluate gray matter volumes. In comparison to controls, suicide attempters showed no difference in subcortical volumes when controlled for intracranial volume. However, within attempters negative correlations between the left (r = -0.35, p = 0.002), and right (r = -0.41, p < 0.0005) nucleus accumbens volumes and the lethality of the last suicidal act were found. Our study found no differences in the volume of eight subcortical nuclei between suicide attempters and controls, suggesting a lack of association between these regions and suicidal behavior in general. However, individual variations in nucleus accumbens structure and functioning may modulate the lethality of suicidal acts during a suicidal crisis. The known role of nucleus accumbens in action selection toward goals determined by the prefrontal cortex, decision-making or mental pain processing are hypothesized to be potential explanations.
Several methodological challenges affect the study of typical brain development based on resting state blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) functional MRI (fMRI). One such challenge is mitigating artifacts such as those from head motion, known to be more substantial in younger subjects than older subjects. Other challenges include controlling for potential age-dependence in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) volume affecting anatomical-functional coregistration; in vascular density affecting BOLD contrast-to-noise; and in CSF pulsation creating time series artifacts. Historically, these confounds have been approached through incorporating artifact-specific temporal and/or spatial filtering into preprocessing pipelines. However, such paths often come with new confounds or limitations. In this study we take the approach of a bottom-up revision of fMRI methodology based on acquisition of multi-echo fMRI and comprehensive utilization of the information in the TE-domain to enhance several aspects of fMRI analysis in the context of a developmental study. We show in a cohort of 25 healthy subjects, aged 9 to 43 years, that the analysis of multi-echo fMRI data eliminates a number of arbitrary processing steps such as bandpass filtering and spatial smoothing, while enabling procedures such as [Formula: see text] mapping, BOLD contrast normalization and signal dropout recovery, precise anatomical-functional coregistration based on [Formula: see text] measurements, automatic denoising through removing subject motion, scanner-related signal drifts and physiology, as well as statistical inference for seed-based connectivity. These enhancements are of both theoretical significance and practical benefit in the study of typical brain development.
The cerebral and cerebellar networks involved in execution and mental imagery of the same sequential finger movements performed with the non-dominant hand were assessed by 3T functional magnetic resonance imaging using multivariate model-free analysis. Eight right-handed healthy volunteers successively performed execution and mental imagery tasks (sequential thumb to fingers opposition). The same data were analyzed by using (1) the linear General Model (p < 0.05 corrected), and (2) probabilistic tensorial independent component analysis (TICA). TICA confirmed that overt movement execution and motor imagery share a common network mainly including: premotor, parietal, insular, temporal, cerebellar cortices and putamen. Motor imagery specifically and bilaterally recruited frontopolar, prefrontal, cingulate, medial insula, neocerebellar cortices and precuneus. Non-dominant hand movements induced bilateral brain and cerebellar activation. In comparison with GLM, TICA identified a more widespread and bilateral network especially during motor imagery. TICA revealed that motor imagery also recruits frontopolar precuneal and occipital cortices, rostral M1/S1 corresponding to the hand somatotopic representation, thalamus and cerebellar lobule VIII. TICA also showed concomitant activation of (1) a cerebello-thalamo-cortical network during motor execution, and (2) a control executive network during imagination. TICA therefore allows precise identification of the brain networks collaborating in the same performance. TICA constitutes a valuable tool to assess and improve detection of brain networks engaged in mental imagery in comparison with GLM.