[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Effects of gender on grey matter (GM) volume differences in subcortical structures of the human brain have consistently been reported. Recent research evidence suggests that both gender and brain size influences volume distribution in subcortical areas independently. The goal of this study was to determine the effects of the interplay between brain size, gender and age contributing to volume differences of subcortical GM in the human brain. High-resolution T1-weighted images were acquired from 53 healthy males and 50 age-matched healthy females. Total GM volume was determined using voxel-based morphometry. We used model-based subcortical segmentation analysis to measure the volume of subcortical nuclei. Main effects of gender, brain volume and aging on subcortical structures were examined using multivariate analysis of variance. No significant difference was found in total brain volume between the two genders after correcting for total intracranial volume. Our analysis revealed significantly larger hippocampus volume for females. Additionally, GM volumes of the caudate nucleus, putamen and thalamus displayed a significant age-related decrease in males as compared to females. In contrast to this only the thalamic volume loss proved significant for females. Strikingly, GM volume decreases faster in males than in females emphasizing the interplay between aging and gender on subcortical structures. These findings might have important implications for the interpretation of the effects of unalterable factors (i.e. gender and age) in cross-sectional structural MRI studies. Furthermore, the volume distribution and changes of subcortical structures have been consistently related to several neuropsychiatric disorders (e.g. Parkinson's disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, etc.). Understanding these changes might yield further insight in the course and prognosis of these disorders.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Brain Imaging and Behavior
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background and objectives: Twelve-step based interventions promote the recovery from alcohol dependence, support relapse prevention and are associated with improved mental status indices (e.g. depression). This treatment model largely relies on spiritual experience. We tested three different alcohol treatment settings, which differently involve elements of spirituality in order to reveal its possible mediator effect on the level of depressive and anxiety symptoms. Methods: Patients were involved from (1) detoxification (n = 34), (2) long-term – 12-step based – therapeutic community treatment (n = 89), (3) and from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) groups after at least 3 years of attendance (n = 46). Anxiodepressive symptoms and spirituality/transcendence were compared and the potential mediator role of spirituality was assessed in the levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms. Results: Long-term 12-step based rehabilitation and sustained AA attendance was connected to lower levels of anxiodepressive symptoms and to more pronounced spirituality. The spiritual component of the different treatments played a mediator role in the decrease of state anxiety but this mediation was not detected in the case of depressive symptoms and trait anxiety. Conclusions/Importance: The role of spirituality in the decrease of state anxiety indicates acute beneficial effect. Therefore, long term, regular attendance in AA groups is essential.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Journal of Substance Use
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: The nature of episodic memory deficit in intermediate-term abstinence from alcohol in alcohol dependence (AD) is not yet clarified. Deficits in inhibitory control are commonly reported in substance use disorders. However, much less is known about cognitive control suppressing interference from memory. The Think/No-think (TNT) paradigm is a well established method to investigate inhibition of associative memory retrieval.
Methods: Thirty-six unmedicated alcohol dependent (AD) patients and 36 healthy controls (HC) performed the TNT task. Thirty image-word pairs were trained up to a predefined accuracy level. Cued recall was examined in three conditions: Think (T) for items instructed to-be-remembered, No-think (NT) assessing the ability to suppress retrieval and Baseline (B) for general relational memory. Premorbid IQ, clinical variables and impulsivity measures were quantified.
Results: AD patients had a significantly increased demand for training. Baseline memory abilities and effect of practice on retrieval were not markedly different between the groups. We found a significant main effect of group (HC vs AD) x condition (B, T and NT) and a significant difference in mean NT-B scores for the two groups.
Discussion: AD and HC groups did not differ essentially in their baseline memory abilities. Also, the instruction to focus on retrieval improved episodic memory performance in both groups. Crucially, control participants were able to suppress relational words in the NT condition supporting the critical effect of cognitive control processes over inhibition of retrieval. In contrast to this, the ability of AD patients to suppress retrieval was found to be impaired.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · Frontiers in Psychology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Our earlier study found patients with depression to show a preference for larger reward as measured by the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). In this IGT version, larger rewards were associated with even larger consequent losses. In the light of the clinical markers defining depressive disorder, this finding might appear controversial at first. Performance of depressed patients on various decision-making (DM) tasks is typically found to be impaired. Evidence points toward reduced reward learning, as well as the difficulty to shift strategy and integrate environmental changes into DM contingencies. This results in an impaired ability to modulate behavior as a function of reward, or punishment, respectively. Clinical symptoms of the disorder, the genetic profile, as well as personality traits might also influence DM strategies. More severe depression increased sensitivity to immediate large punishment, thus predicting future decisions, and was also associated with higher harm avoidance. Anhedonic features diminished reward learning abilities to a greater extent, even predicting clinical outcome. Several questions about how these aspects relate remain to be clarified. Is there a genetic predisposition for the DM impairment preceding mood symptoms? Is it the consequence of clinical signs or even learned behavior serving as a coping strategy? Are patients prone to develop an aversion of loss or are they unable to sense or deal with reward or the preference of reward? Does the DM deficit normalize or is a persisting impairment predictor for clinical outcome or relapse risk? To what extent is it influenced by medication effects? How does a long-lasting DM deficit affect daily life and social interactions? Strikingly, research evidence indicates that depressed patients tend to behave less deceptive and more self-focused, resulting in impaired social DM. The difficulty in daily interpersonal interactions might contribute to social isolation, further intensifying depressive symptoms.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · Frontiers in Psychology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: High relapse rate and extreme difficulty to maintain abstinence are core characteristics of alcohol dependence (AD). Previous studies have demonstrated a persistent decision-making (DM) deficit in AD. We aimed to reveal specific personality features and stress-coping mechanisms presumed to compensate for ineffective DM skills.
Eighty-eight unmedicated patients with AD were enrolled. Intact general cognitive status was assured by IQ above 90. Forty-three patients had an average abstinence period of 12 weeks and were currently in an inpatient treatment program (short-term abstinence group, STA) and 45 patients were abstinent for at least 3 years (long-term abstinence group, LTA). The two groups were assessed using an integrative approach combining domains of DM, temperament and character dimensions and stress-coping measures.
Both groups performed at chance level with no linear improvement tendency on the gambling task assessing DM adequacy. The LTA group scored significantly higher on scales of self-directedness and cooperativeness. In contrast, levels of harm avoidance, emotion-oriented coping and perceived stress were significantly higher in the STA group.
Our findings provide new evidence for a persistent DM deficit with no learning effect in AD. Despite the deficit, alcohol-dependent patients can achieve LTA. STA patients perceive higher levels of stress and use non-adaptive coping strategies. We propose that the more adaptive personality profile of LTA patients contributes to the compensation of the trait-like DM deficit in alcoholism. These compensatory features represent promising new targets for preventive measures and therapeutic interventions in AD.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2012 · Alcohol and Alcoholism
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Psychotic, cognitive and affective symptoms defining schizophrenia may, though much less severe, manifest themselves in up to 10 to 20% of the general population. What explains the fact that in certain cases the symptoms require even constant medical supervision, while others are capable of living a normal life within social conventions? Which factors lead to the transition of mild, subclinical manifestations and vulnerability indicators towards the outburst of one of the most severe and depriving mental disorders? Genetic susceptibility is undoubtedly crucial. More recent research findings emphasize the modifying effect of specific environmental factors on gene expression. The gene-environment interplay may induce so-called epigenetic alterations which may manifest themselves over several generations. Future integrative, multi-dimensional and flexible schizophrenia research approaches focusing on the identification of neurobiological and cognitive outcomes are much needed to understand disease vulnerability, susceptibility mechanisms, periods and interactions. Research methods may differ, but our aim is common - establishing more effective diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.
No preview · Article · Dec 2011 · Neuropsychopharmacologia Hungarica: a Magyar Pszichofarmakológiai Egyesület lapja = official journal of the Hungarian Association of Psychopharmacology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pharmacological treatment of major psychiatric conditions (eg, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder) is exceptionally difficult during pregnancy. Despite all efforts, medication-resistant life-threatening mental deterioration can emerge with the urgent need for rapid and effective intervention. In these cases, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may represent the only valid and safe therapeutic option. Here, we present the challenging medical case of a 31-year-old primigravida with a general medical history of obesity and hypertension, previously diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder, now presenting with severe, therapy-resistant manic agitation. Full symptomatic remission was achieved and preserved with ECT given between the 7th and 22nd gestational weeks, the pregnancy reached full term, and a healthy child was born by cesarean delivery performed because of preeclampsia. Although it is unusual to start ECT this early in pregnancy, with the thorough assessment of potential risk factors and preventive measures taken, it can be the most effective and presumably the least risky treatment approach. By delineating key aspects of both the psychiatric and anesthetic management of this case, we aim to highlight the importance of a close cooperation between all medical fields involved in clinical practice.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · The journal of ECT
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous studies have demonstrated impaired relational memory in schizophrenia. We studied eye-movement behavior as an indirect measure of relational memory, together with forced-choice recognition as an explicit measure.
Thirty-five patients with schizophrenia and 35 healthy participants were trained to associate a face with a background scene. During testing, scenes were presented as a cue and then overlaid with three previously studied faces. Participants were asked to recall the matching face, and both eye movements and forced-choice recognition were recorded. During Non-Match trials, no faces matched the scene. During Match trials, one of the faces had previously been paired with the scene.
On Non-Match trials, when no relational memory trace was present, both groups viewed the three faces equally. In contrast, on Match trials, control participants quickly (within 500 msec) and consistently (70%-75% of test trial viewing) showed preferential viewing of the matching face. Viewing of the matching face was significantly delayed and reduced in schizophrenia participants. Forced-choice recognition of the matching face was also impaired in the patient group. An analysis of all correct Match trials revealed that preferential viewing was significantly reduced and delayed in participants with schizophrenia.
This study provides novel evidence for a specific relational memory impairment in schizophrenia. Patients showed deficits in their forced-choice recognition responses, as well as abnormal eye-movement patterns during memory recall, even on trials when behavioral responses were accurate. We propose that eye movements provide a promising new avenue for studying relational memory in schizophrenia.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2010 · Biological psychiatry
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) show neuropsychological impairments, including deficient executive functions and suboptimal decision-making strategies, which are mediated by several brain regions. In the development of these symptoms the pathology of the prefrontal cortex (PFC), including the dorsolateral, ventromedial and orbitofrontal regions, may also play an important role. Neuropsychological assessment is a useful tool in detecting and measuring these deficiencies, showing that patients with MDD exhibit altered sensitivity to reward and punishment. However, impairment of emotional decision-making strategies in MDD is influenced by genetic variations (5-HTTLPR polymorphism) and personality traits, which seem to have a higher predictive value on decision making performance than the clinical symptoms.
No preview · Article · Jun 2008 · Ideggyógyászati szemle
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) show suboptimal decision-making strategy in experimental game situations. The influence of personality traits and genetic variations on decision-making is not known.
Contingency learning based on the cumulative effect of reward and punishment was assessed in 124 patients with unipolar MDD using the ABCD (reward sensitivity) and EFGH (punishment sensitivity) versions of the Iowa Gambling Test. All patients were genotyped for serotonin transporter promoter polymorphism (5-HTTLPR) and received the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI).
Patients with the ll genotype achieved higher persistence scores and used more optimal decision-making strategy on the ABCD task compared with patients with the ss genotype. Higher persistence was associated with better performance on the ABCD task, and higher harm-avoidance was associated with worse performance on the EFGH task.
Healthy control volunteers were not included. Personality traits and decision-making were not assessed with multiple questionnaires and tasks. Type I errors cannot be excluded.
Decision-making strategy is influenced by personality traits and genetic variations in patients with MDD. Patients carrying the ss variant of the 5-HTTLPR show less persistence and tend to be influenced by high immediate reward.
No preview · Article · Dec 2007 · Journal of Affective Disorders
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) show neuropsychological impairments, including deficient executive functions and altered sensitivity to reward and punishment.
Executive functions (Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, WCST) and contingency learning based on the cumulative effect of reward and punishment (Iowa Gambling Test, IGT) were assessed in 30 medicated patients with unipolar MDD and in 20 healthy control volunteers. In the classic ABCD version of the IGT, advantageous decks are characterized by immediate small reward but even smaller future punishment. In the modified EFGH version, advantageous decks are characterized by immediate large punishment but even larger future reward.
Patients with MDD were impaired in the WCST and in the ABCD version of the IGT but showed normal performances on the EFGH task. Depression, but not executive dysfunctions, significantly predicted performances on the EFGH task: less severe depressive symptoms were associated with better performances on the EFGH task.
The sample size was small and only few neuropsychological tests were used. Unmedicated patients were not assessed. Individual personality style, response strategies, and behavioral impulsivity were not investigated.
Medicated patients with MDD show altered sensitivity to reward and punishment: immediate large reward enhanced related response patterns even when the strategy was disadvantageous and immediate large punishment did not prohibit related response patterns. Impairments in emotional decision-making were not a pure consequence of executive dysfunctions.
No preview · Article · Mar 2006 · Journal of Affective Disorders
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The "dorsal-stream vulnerability" hypothesis claims that motion-sensitive areas in the dorsal occipito-parietal visual system are vulnerable to genetic and environmental factors which affect brain maturation and development. The aim of this study was to investigate the possibility that developmental anomalies of directional motion perception can be detected in children of mothers with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Motion and form coherence thresholds were measured in 36 children of mothers with schizophrenia, 28 children of mothers with bipolar disorder, and 30 children with negative family history at 7, 8-9, and 10-11 years of age. These tasks require the detection of direction of coherently moving dots embedded among randomly oscillating dots (motion task) and the detection of tangentially oriented line-segments embedded among randomly oriented segments (form task). Results revealed that the rate of development in the motion task was less pronounced in children of mothers with schizophrenia than that in children of mothers with bipolar disorder and in age-matched controls. The development of form perception was spared. Children of mothers with bipolar disorder showed an intact development in both motion and form perception tasks. These results suggest that the progressive developmental abnormality of motion-sensitive visual areas may be a characteristic feature of schizophrenia-vulnerability.
No preview · Article · Mar 2006 · Schizophrenia Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The pathology of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) may play an important role in the development of the symptoms of major depressive disorder. In this study, the authors used the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) and the Iowa Gambling Test (IGT) to investigate PFC functions in depression. The WCST investigates cognitive set-shifting abilities, whereas the IGT is sensitive for the cumulative effect of reward and punishment on decision-making. Participants were 20 patients with DSM-IV major depressive disorder and 20 age-, gender-, and education-matched healthy control subjects. The depressed patients showed significant impairment in both tests, but the WCST and IGT scores did not correlate. There was no significant correlation between the test results and the severity of depressive and anxiety symptoms. Our results suggest a global impairment of the PFC in depression, which includes the dorsolateral and ventromedial regions.
No preview · Article · Feb 2005 · Psychiatria Hungarica: A Magyar Pszichiatriai Tarsasag tudomanyos folyoirata
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to investigate the possibility that 'theory of mind' (ToM) impairments are associated with schizophrenia liability.
Forty healthy control subjects and 79 first-degree biological relatives of schizophrenia patients (32 siblings and 47 parents) received the Eyes Test, during which subjects are asked to choose the word best describes the mental state of a person whose eyes are depicted on a photograph.
The affected relatives (n = 14) performed worse on the Eyes Test compared with the controls (P = 0.0001), whereas the unaffected relatives (n = 65) showed intact performances (P = 0.4). The Eyes Test values did not correlate with age and IQ. There was no significant difference between male and female participants.
ToM deficits, as measured by the Eyes Test, are not associated with schizophrenia liability.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to investigate lateral connectivity in early visual cortex of schizophrenia patients. Contrast thresholds were measured for centrally presented Gabor patches which were surrounded by two collinear or orthogonal flankers. The healthy subjects (n = 15) showed lower contrast thresholds for central Gabor patches when collinear flankers were presented. This effect was significantly reduced in unmedicated highly functioning schizophrenia patients (n = 20) who performed normally on the continuous performance test. The performance of the patients did not correlate with the positive and negative symptoms. The facilitation effect of collinear flankers is believed to reflect lateral interactions between feature-specific units in early visual cortex (V1). Our results therefore suggest abnormal lateral interactions in early visual cortex of schizophrenia patients.
No preview · Article · Apr 2004 · Neuroscience Letters