Researchers using functional MRI (fMRI) have determined that the circuitry in the area of the brain responsible for suppressing memory is dysfunctional in patients suffering from stress-related psychiatric disorders. Results of the study will be presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).
"For patients with major depression and other stress-related disorders, traumatic memories are a source of anxiety," said Nivedita Agarwal, M.D., radiology resident at the University of Udine in Italy, where the study is being conducted, and research fellow at the Brain Imaging Center of McLean Hospital, Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston. "Because traumatic memories are not adequately suppressed by the brain, they continue to interfere with the patient's life."
Dr. Agarwal and colleagues used brain fMRI to explore alterations in the neural circuitry that links the prefrontal cortex to the hippocampus, while study participants performed a memory task. Participants included 11 patients with major depression, 13 with generalized anxiety disorder, nine with panic attack disorders, five with borderline personality disorder and 21 healthy individuals. All patients reported suffering varying degrees of stressful traumatic events, such as sexual or physical abuse, difficult relationships or "mobbing" – a type of bullying or harassment – at some point in their lives.
After reviewing a list of neutral word pairs, each participant underwent fMRI. During imaging, they were presented with one of the words and asked to either recall or to suppress the memory of its associated word. The fMRI images revealed that the prefrontal cortex, which controls the suppression and retrieval of memories processed by the hippocampus, showed abnormal activation in the patients with stress-related disorders compared to the healthy controls. During the memory suppression phase of the test, patients with stress-related disorders showed greater activation in the hippocampus, suggesting that insufficient activation of the prefrontal cortex could be the basis for inadequate suppression of unwanted traumatic memories stored in the hippocampus.
"These data suggest that the mechanism for memory suppression is dysfunctional in patients with stress-related disorders primarily because of an alteration of the prefrontal cortex," Dr. Agarwal said. "These patients often complain of poor memory, which might in part be attributed to this altered circuitry," she added. According to Agarwal, fMRI is an important tool in understanding the neurobiological basis of psychiatric disorders and in identifying imaging markers to psychiatric disease, helping clinicians target specific parts of the brain for treatment.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- The Science Behind Distillation
- New Results From The LHC At 13 TeV!
- How Did Mexico Eliminate Breast Cancer Deaths?
- 3D Printed ‘Smart Cap’ Can Detect Spoiled Food
- Epigenetics: Quackery Or Phenomenon?
- No other way
- Kepler 452b - Things That Could Go Wrong With Habitability & If It Is - Could We Detect Intelligent Life There?
- "Question: Are there 2 data points missing in the mT plot? and surely the high mT 'excess' has got..."
- "I think Omoo is a fine word. But Pluto may not like it regardless, because 2% of astronomers may..."
- "Not cool Tommaso. :) I take that means the excess disappeared at 13 tev. ..."
- "Ah, that - I guess at 13 TeV it will become a 3.2 TeV excess ;-)Cheers,T...."
- "This is way off topic, but Bush tried to fix the problem about 15 years ago for my generation and..."
- Clinical validation for LOXO-101 against TRK fusion cancer
- It don't mean a thing if the brain ain't got that swing
- Very early birth correlated to introversion, neuroticism, and risk aversion in adulthood
- Personality disorders drive psychiatric patients to euthanasia
- Schizophrenia's 'Rosetta Stone' gene identified