[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Social rewards are processed by the same dopaminergic-mediated brain networks as non-social rewards, suggesting a common representation of subjective value. Individual differences in personality and motivation influence the reinforcing value of social incentives, but it remains open whether the pursuit of social incentives is analogously supported by the neural reward system when positive social stimuli are connected to approach behavior. To test for a modulation of neural activation by approach motivation, individuals with high and low approach motivation (BAS) completed implicit and explicit social approach-avoidance paradigms during fMRI. High approach motivation was associated with faster implicit approach reactions as well as a trend for higher approach ratings, indicating increased approach tendencies. Implicit and explicit positive social approach was accompanied by stronger recruitment of the nucleus accumbens, middle cingulate cortex, and (pre-)cuneus for individuals with high compared to low approach motivation. These results support and extend prior research on social reward processing, self-other distinctions and affective judgments by linking approach motivation to the engagement of reward-related circuits during motivational reactions to social incentives. This interplay between motivational preferences and motivational contexts might underlie the rewarding experience during social interactions.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Violence is a topic of great social relevance, frequently causing tremendous health consequences for those affected and high consequential costs for health care and the national economy. The established consulting and assistance services are usually restricted to offers for ambulant supply, mainly from private agencies or societies. As a result, there is no identification and care for patients who have experienced violence and who are treated in hospital. Another deficiency is the identification and care of male victims of violence. Despite wide-ranging offers of assistance, only very few gender-specific consulting and support services have been available to date.
Therefore, the model project “Gender Gewaltkonzept” was initiated at Aachen University Hospital to assess the prevalence of violence and the potential consequences of the violence experienced on the patients’ health. In addition, we investigated whether males and females are in need of different supply requirements.
Based on the results of the project “Gender Gewaltkonzept” so far, and on prevalence estimates proving that there is a high rate of violent experiences in both males and females, this overview is aimed at presenting the aid and protection concepts available for victims of violence, in addition to the existing deficiencies of the care system. We present approaches to resolving these deficiencies to be able to establish all-encompassing gender-appropriate support for victims of violence.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies that apply a “subsequent memory” approach, successful encoding is indicated by increased fMRI activity during the encoding phase for hits vs. misses, in areas underlying memory encoding such as the hippocampal formation. Signal-detection theory (SDT) can be used to analyze memory-related fMRI activity as a function of the participant’s memory trace strength (d′). The goal of the present study was to use SDT to examine the relationship between fMRI activity during incidental encoding and participants’ recognition performance. To implement a new approach, post-experimental group assignment into High- or Low Performers (HP or LP) was based on 29 healthy participants’ recognition performance, assessed with SDT. The analyses focused on the interaction between the factors group (HP vs. LP) and recognition performance (hits vs. misses). A whole-brain analysis revealed increased activation for HP vs. LP during incidental encoding for remembered vs. forgotten items (hits > misses) in the insula/temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) and the fusiform gyrus (FFG). Parameter estimates in these regions exhibited a significant positive correlation with d′. As these brain regions are highly relevant for salience detection (insula), stimulus-driven attention (TPJ), and content-specific processing of mnemonic stimuli (FFG), we suggest that HPs’ elevated memory performance was associated with enhanced attentional and content-specific sensory processing during the encoding phase. We provide first correlative evidence that encoding-related activity in content-specific sensory areas and content-independent attention and salience detection areas influences memory performance in a task with incidental encoding of facial stimuli. Based on our findings, we discuss whether the aforementioned group differences in brain activity during incidental encoding might constitute the basis of general differences in memory performance between HP and LP.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background:
Violence has many faces and often results in a variety of consequences. Some studies indicated different types of violence and health consequences in men and women. However, it is still unclear whether this is reflected in clinical context, for example in a patient sample of a German university hospital.
The primary goal of the present study was to analyze associations of violence with health, gender and social, economic, job-related, psychological and physical consequences. In addition, the effects of psychological treatment were examined.
Materials and methods:
One line of research refers to the survey of more than 5000 patients of the university hospital Aachen, evaluating violence experience and several health complaints anonymously. Another line of research deals with detailed interviews with victims of violence and their experienced consequences. A final data source stems from the evaluation of psychological counseling of patients with prior experience of violence. Changes in subjectively perceived depressive symptoms and acceptance of the treatment are evaluated.
Results and conclusions:
Experience of violence increases the risk for several health problems, especially the experience of multiple types of violence. The interviews showed that more than 60 % of the victims had a clinical diagnosis - independent of sex. The risk for a clinical diagnosis increased with multiple violence experiences during childhood. Patients with a clinical diagnosis indicated more subjective consequences of violence, and consequences of violence were more pronounced in patients that experienced multiple types of violence. The good acceptance as well as the effects on symptomatology and other relevant therapeutic variables provides a first indication for a successful treatment of victims of violence in a clinical context.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent evidence suggests that the experience of stress can be communicated between individuals via chemosensory cues. Little is known, however, about the impact of these cues on neurophysiological responses during a socially threatening situation. In the current investigation we implemented a widely used paradigm to study social exclusion-Cyberball-to examine whether chemosensory cues signaling anxiety modulate the neuronal effects of ostracism. In a double-blind, within-subjects design, 24 healthy, normosmic participants were presented with chemosensory cues of anxiety (or control samples) and completed the Cyberball task while in a 3T fMRI scanner. Axillary sweat collected from male students awaiting an oral examination served as the anxiety cues while the chemosensory control stimuli consisted of sweat collected from the same individuals participating in an ergometer training session. The neuroimaging data revealed that under the control chemosensory condition, exclusion from Cyberball was associated with significantly higher orbitofrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex activity, which is consistent with previous studies in the field. However, when participants were primed with the anxiety sweat, the activity in these regions was not observed. Further, under exposure to anxiety cues during ostracism the participants showed deactivations in brain regions involved in memory (hippocampus), social cognition (middle temporal gyrus, superior temporal gyrus) and processing of salience (inferior frontal gyrus). These results suggest that successful communication of anxiety via the chemosensory domain may moderate the experience of social exclusion. It is possible that the anxiety signals make it easier for the individuals to detach from the group, pointing to the communicative role of chemosensory anxiety cues in enhancing adjustment mechanisms in light of a distressing situation.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Frontiers in Psychology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Deficits in emotion processing and social interaction are prominent symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD has also been associated with aggressive tendencies towards self and others. The prevalence of aggressive behav-ior in this disorder, its etiology and its impact on social life are still unclear. This study investigated behavioral and physiological effects of social provocation in patients with ASD and healthy controls. We used a modified Taylor Aggression Paradigm in 24 high-functioning patients with ASD and 24 healthy controls. Participants were instructed to play against a fictitious human opponent. Money withdrawals toward the participant represented provocation and money deduction by the participant denoted aggressive behavior. Throughout the measurement, electrodermal activ-ity (EDA) was recorded. Healthy controls showed higher aggressive responses to high provocation compared to low provocation, which demonstrated the effectiveness of the used procedure in eliciting aggression. Patients' responses were not influenced by the level of social provocation, although in both groups aggression was higher after lost com-pared to won trials. Physiologically, controls showed fewer but higher EDA amplitudes when responding aggressively, whereas patients displayed the opposite pattern of more but lower EDA amplitudes. The modified Taylor Aggression Paradigm successfully elicited aggression and revealed different behavioral and neurophysiological responses in patients and healthy controls. Patients' aggressive behavior as well as their physiological responses were less modulated by level of provocation compared to controls. Therapeutic attempts for patients might concentrate on improving empathic abilities and the understanding of social situations, including provocation and aggressive behavior.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background Individuals with schizophrenia and people with depression both show abnormal behavioural and neural responses when perceiving and responding to emotional stimuli, but pathology-specific differences and commonalities remain mostly unclear. Aims To directly compare empathic responses to dynamic multimodal emotional stimuli in a group with schizophrenia and a group with depression, and to investigate their neural correlates using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Method The schizophrenia group (n = 20), the depression group (n = 24) and a control group (n = 24) were presented with portrait-shot video clips expressing emotion through three possible communication channels: facial expression, prosody and content. Participants rated their own and the actor's emotional state as an index of empathy. Results Although no group differences were found in empathy ratings, characteristic differences emerged in the fMRI activation patterns. The schizophrenia group demonstrated aberrant activation patterns during the neutral speech content condition in regions implicated in multimodal integration and formation of semantic constructs. Those in the depression group were most affected during conditions with trimodal emotional and trimodal neutral stimuli, in key regions of the mentalising network. Conclusions Our findings reveal characteristic differences in patients with schizophrenia compared with those with depression in their cortical responses to dynamic affective stimuli. These differences indicate that impairments in responding to emotional stimuli may be caused by pathology-specific problems in social cognition.
Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · The British journal of psychiatry: the journal of mental science
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gender dysphoria (also known as "transsexualism") is characterized as a discrepancy between anatomical sex and gender identity. Research points towards neurobiological influences. Due to the sexually dimorphic characteristics of the human voice, voice gender perception provides a biologically relevant function, e.g. in the context of mating selection. There is evidence for a better recognition of voices of the opposite sex and a differentiation of the sexes in its underlying functional cerebral correlates, namely the prefrontal and middle temporal areas. This fMRI study investigated the neural correlates of voice gender perception in 32 male-to-female gender dysphoric individuals (MtFs) compared to 20 non-gender dysphoric men and 19 non-gender dysphoric women. Participants indicated the sex of 240 voice stimuli modified in semitone steps in the direction to the other gender. Compared to men and women, MtFs showed differences in a neural network including the medial prefrontal gyrus, the insula, and the precuneus when responding to male vs. female voices. With increased voice morphing men recruited more prefrontal areas compared to women and MtFs, while MtFs revealed a pattern more similar to women. On a behavioral and neuronal level, our results support the feeling of MtFs reporting they cannot identify with their assigned sex.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Die Beurteilung der Geschäfts- und Testierunfähigkeit ist eine der schwierigsten forensisch-psychiatrischen Tätigkeiten. Um diese Aufgabe korrekt durchführen zu können, ist eine gründliche Kenntnis der rechtlichen Rahmenbedingungen und der einschlägigen Rechtsprechung unerlässlich. Die vorliegende Arbeit erläutert die Begriffe der Geschäftsunfähigkeit, der partiellen Geschäftsunfähigkeit sowie der Testierunfähigkeit. Das praktische gutachtliche Vorgehen wird am Beispiel der wichtigsten psychischen Störungen erläutert.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous literature has shown that hypoglycemia influences the intensity of the BOLD signal. A similar but smaller effect may also be elicited by low normal blood glucose levels in healthy individuals. This may not only confound the BOLD signal measured in fMRI, but also more generally interact with cognitive processing, and thus indirectly influence fMRI results. Here we show in a placebo-controlled, crossover, double-blind study on 40 healthy subjects, that overnight fasting and low normal levels of glucose contrasted to an activated, elevated glucose condition have an impact on brain activation during basal visual stimulation. Additionally, functional connectivity of the visual cortex shows a strengthened association with higher-order attention-related brain areas in an elevated blood glucose condition compared to the fasting condition. In a fasting state visual brain areas show stronger coupling to the inferior temporal gyrus. Results demonstrate that prolonged overnight fasting leads to a diminished BOLD signal in higher-order occipital processing areas when compared to an elevated blood glucose condition. Additionally, functional connectivity patterns underscore the modulatory influence of fasting on visual brain networks. Patterns of brain activation and functional connectivity associated with a broad range of attentional processes are affected by maturation and aging and associated with psychiatric disease and intoxication. Thus, we conclude that prolonged fasting may decrease fMRI design sensitivity in any task involving attentional processes when fasting status or blood glucose is not controlled.
Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Brain Structure and Function
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: People with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) are at an elevated risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. Although the neural correlates of successful memory performance in MCI have been widely investigated, the neural mechanisms involved in unsuccessful memory performance remain unknown. The current study examines the differences between patients suffering from stable amnestic MCI with multiple deficit syndromes and healthy elderly controls in relation to the neural correlates of both successful and unsuccessful encoding and recognition. Forty-six subjects (27 controls, 19 MCI) from the HelMA (Helmholtz Alliance for Mental Health in an Aging Society) completed a comprehensive neuropsychological test battery and participated in an fMRI experiment for associative face-name memory. In patients, the areas of frontal, parietal, and temporal cortices were less involved during unsuccessful encoding and recognition. A temporary dysfunction of the top-down control of frontal or parietal (or both) areas is likely to result in a non-selective propagation of task-related information to memory.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience