Altered resting-state functional connectivity of the frontal-striatal reward system in social anxiety disorder.
ABSTRACT: We investigated differences in the intrinsic functional brain organization (functional connectivity) of the human reward system between healthy control participants and patients with social anxiety disorder. Functional connectivity was measured in the resting-state via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). 53 patients with social anxiety disorder and 33 healthy control participants underwent a 6-minute resting-state fMRI scan. Functional connectivity of the reward system was analyzed by calculating whole-brain temporal correlations with a bilateral nucleus accumbens seed and a ventromedial prefrontal cortex seed. Patients with social anxiety disorder, relative to the control group, had (1) decreased functional connectivity between the nucleus accumbens seed and other regions associated with reward, including ventromedial prefrontal cortex; (2) decreased functional connectivity between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex seed and lateral prefrontal regions, including the anterior and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices; and (3) increased functional connectivity between both the nucleus accumbens seed and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex seed with more posterior brain regions, including anterior cingulate cortex. Social anxiety disorder appears to be associated with widespread differences in the functional connectivity of the reward system, including markedly decreased functional connectivity between reward regions and between reward regions and lateral prefrontal cortices, and markedly increased functional connectivity between reward regions and posterior brain regions.
Project description:Neuroimaging studies have implicated a set of striatal and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) regions that are commonly activated during reward processing tasks. Resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) studies have demonstrated that the human brain is organized into several functional systems that show strong temporal coherence in the absence of goal-directed tasks. Here we use seed-based and graph-theory RSFC approaches to characterize the systems-level organization of putative reward regions of at rest. Peaks of connectivity from seed-based RSFC patterns for the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) were used to identify candidate reward regions which were merged with a previously used set of regions (Power et al., 2011). Graph-theory was then used to determine system-level membership for all regions. Several regions previously implicated in reward-processing (NAcc, lateral and medial OFC, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex) comprised a distinct, preferentially coupled system. This RSFC system is stable across a range of connectivity thresholds and shares strong overlap with meta-analyses of task-based reward studies. This reward system shares between-system connectivity with systems implicated in cognitive control and self-regulation, including the fronto-parietal, cingulo-opercular, and default systems. Differences may exist in the pathways through which control systems interact with reward system components. Whereas NAcc is functionally connected to cingulo-opercular and default systems, OFC regions show stronger connectivity with the fronto-parietal system. We propose that future work may be able to interrogate group or individual differences in connectivity profiles using the regions delineated in this work to explore potential relationships to appetitive behaviors, self-regulation failure, and addiction.
Project description:Obese children demonstrate less activation in prefrontal regions associated with self-control and inhibition when presented with food cues and advertisements. This study evaluates the differences between obese and healthy weight children in resting-state functional connectivity to these brain regions.Seed regions in bilateral middle frontal gyri were chosen based on previous task-based analysis showing differences between obese and healthy weight children's responses to food-associated stimuli. Functional connectivity to these seed regions was measured in resting-state scans collected in obese and lean children undergoing fMRI.Obese children exhibited greater resting-state functional connectivity than healthy weight children between the left middle frontal gyrus and reward-related regions in the left ventromedial prefrontal cortex, as well as the left lateral OFC.Previously published results demonstrated that obese children exhibit less activity in brain regions associated with self-control when viewing motivationally salient food advertisements. Here, it is shown that the obese children also have tonically greater input to these self-control regions from reward neurocircuitry. The greater functional connectivity between reward and self-control regions, in conjunction with weaker activation of self-control neurocircuitry, may render these children more susceptible to food advertisements, placing them at elevated risk for over-feeding and obesity.
Project description:Although altered function in neural reward circuitry is widely proposed in models of addiction, more recent conceptual views have emphasized the role of disrupted response in prefrontal regions. Changes in regions such as the orbitofrontal cortex, medial prefrontal cortex, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex are postulated to contribute to the compulsivity, impulsivity, and altered executive function that are central to addiction. In addition, few studies have examined function in these regions during young adulthood, when exposure is less chronic than in typical samples of alcohol-dependent adults. To address these issues, we examined neural response and functional connectivity during monetary reward in 24 adults with alcohol dependence and 24 psychiatrically healthy adults. Adults with alcohol dependence exhibited less response to the receipt of monetary reward in a set of prefrontal regions including the medial prefrontal cortex, lateral orbitofrontal cortex, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Adults with alcohol dependence also exhibited greater negative correlation between function in each of these regions and that in the nucleus accumbens. Within the alcohol-dependent group, those with family history of alcohol dependence exhibited lower mPFC response, and those with more frequent drinking exhibited greater negative functional connectivity between the mPFC and the nucleus accumbens. These findings indicate that alcohol dependence is associated with less engagement of prefrontal cortical regions, suggesting weak or disrupted regulation of ventral striatal response. This pattern of prefrontal response and frontostriatal connectivity has consequences for the behavior patterns typical of addiction. Furthermore, brain-behavior findings indicate that the potential mechanisms of disruption in frontostriatal circuitry in alcohol dependence include family liability to alcohol use problems and more frequent use of alcohol. In all, these findings build on the extant literature on reward-circuit function in addiction and suggest mechanisms for disrupted function in alcohol dependence.
Project description:Altered resting-state (RS) brain activity, as a measure of functional connectivity (FC), is commonly observed in chronic pain. Identifying a reliable signature pattern of altered RS activity for chronic pain could provide strong mechanistic insights and serve as a highly beneficial neuroimaging-based diagnostic tool. We collected and analyzed RS functional magnetic resonance imaging data from female patients with urologic chronic pelvic pain syndrome (N = 45) and matched healthy participants (N = 45) as part of an NIDDK-funded multicenter project (www.mappnetwork.org). Using dual regression and seed-based analyses, we observed significantly decreased FC of the default mode network to 2 regions in the posterior medial cortex (PMC): the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) and the left precuneus (threshold-free cluster enhancement, family-wise error corrected P < 0.05). Further investigation revealed that patients demonstrated increased FC between the PCC and several brain regions implicated in pain, sensory, motor, and emotion regulation processes (eg, insular cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, thalamus, globus pallidus, putamen, amygdala, hippocampus). The left precuneus demonstrated decreased FC to several regions of pain processing, reward, and higher executive functioning within the prefrontal (orbitofrontal, anterior cingulate, ventromedial prefrontal) and parietal cortices (angular gyrus, superior and inferior parietal lobules). The altered PMC connectivity was associated with several phenotype measures, including pain and urologic symptom intensity, depression, anxiety, quality of relationships, and self-esteem levels in patients. Collectively, these findings indicate that in patients with urologic chronic pelvic pain syndrome, regions of the PMC are detached from the default mode network, whereas neurological processes of self-referential thought and introspection may be joined to pain and emotion regulatory processes.
Project description:The significance of why a similar set of brain regions are associated with the default mode network and value-related neural processes remains to be clarified. Here, we examined i) whether brain regions exhibiting willingness-to-pay (WTP) task-related activity are intrinsically connected when the brain is at rest, ii) whether these regions overlap spatially with the default mode network, and iii) whether individual differences in choice behavior during the WTP task are reflected in functional brain connectivity at rest. Blood-oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) signal was measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging while subjects performed the WTP task and at rest with eyes open. Brain regions that tracked the value of bids during the WTP task were used as seed regions in an analysis of functional connectivity in the resting state data. The seed in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex was functionally connected to core regions of the WTP task-related network. Brain regions within the WTP task-related network, namely the ventral precuneus, ventromedial prefrontal and posterior cingulate cortex overlapped spatially with publically available maps of the default mode network. Also, those individuals with higher functional connectivity during rest between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the ventral striatum showed greater preference consistency during the WTP task. Thus, WTP task-related regions are an intrinsic network of the brain that corresponds spatially with the default mode network, and individual differences in functional connectivity within the WTP network at rest may reveal a priori biases in choice behavior.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Alterations in functional connectivity between the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and frontal cortices have been previously associated with the presence of psychiatric syndromes, including bipolar disorder (BD). Whether these alterations are a consequence or a risk factor for mental disorders remains unresolved. METHODS:This study included 35 patients with BD, 30 nonaffected siblings of patients with BD, and 23 healthy control subjects to probe functional connectivity at rest between NAcc and the rest of the brain in a cross-sectional design. Blood oxygen level-dependent time series at rest from NAcc were used as seed region in a voxelwise correlational analysis. The strength of the correlations found was compared across groups after Fisher's Z transformation. RESULTS:We found increased functional connectivity between the NAcc and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex-comprising mainly the subgenual anterior cingulate-in patients compared with healthy control subjects. Participants at increased genetic risk but yet resilient-nonaffected siblings-showed functional connectivity values midway between the former two groups. CONCLUSIONS:Our results are indicative of the potential for the connectivity between NAcc and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex to represent an endophenotype for BD.
Project description:Studies have revealed abnormalities in resting-state functional connectivity in those with major depressive disorder specifically in areas such as the dorsal anterior cingulate, thalamus, amygdala, the pallidostriatum and subgenual cingulate. However, the effect of antidepressant medications on human brain function is less clear and the effect of these drugs on resting-state functional connectivity is unknown. Forty volunteers matched for age and gender with no previous psychiatric history received either citalopram (SSRI; selective serotonergic reuptake inhibitor), reboxetine (SNRI; selective noradrenergic reuptake inhibitor) or placebo for 7 days in a double-blind design. Using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging and seed based connectivity analysis we selected the right nucleus accumbens, the right amygdala, the subgenual cingulate and the dorsal medial prefrontal cortex as seed regions. Mood and subjective experience were also measured before and after drug administration using self-report scales. Despite no differences in mood across the three groups, we found reduced connectivity between the amygdala and the ventral medial prefrontal cortex in the citalopram group and the amygdala and the orbitofrontal cortex for the reboxetine group. We also found reduced striatal-orbitofrontal cortex connectivity in the reboxetine group. These data suggest that antidepressant medications can decrease resting-state functional connectivity independent of mood change and in areas known to mediate reward and emotional processing in the brain. We conclude that hypothesis-driven seed based analysis of resting-state fMRI supports the proposition that antidepressant medications might work by normalising the elevated resting-state functional connectivity seen in depressed patients.
Project description:A growing body of evidence suggests that autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are related to altered communication between brain regions. Here, we present findings showing that ASD is characterized by a pattern of reduced functional integration as well as reduced segregation of large-scale brain networks. Twenty-three children with ASD and 25 typically developing matched controls underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while passively viewing emotional face expressions. We examined whole-brain functional connectivity of two brain structures previously implicated in emotional face processing in autism: the amygdala bilaterally and the right pars opercularis of the inferior frontal gyrus (rIFGpo). In the ASD group, we observed reduced functional integration (i.e., less long-range connectivity) between amygdala and secondary visual areas, as well as reduced segregation between amygdala and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. For the rIFGpo seed, we observed reduced functional integration with parietal cortex and increased integration with right frontal cortex as well as right nucleus accumbens. Finally, we observed reduced segregation between rIFGpo and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. We propose that a systems-level approach-whereby the integration and segregation of large-scale brain networks in ASD is examined in relation to typical development-may provide a more detailed characterization of the neural basis of ASD.
Project description:Anhedonia, the reduced ability to experience pleasure in response to otherwise rewarding stimuli, is a core symptom of major depressive disorder (MDD). Although the posterior ventromedial prefrontal cortex (pVMPFC) and its functional connections have been consistently implicated in MDD, their roles in anhedonia remain poorly understood. Furthermore, it is unknown whether anhedonia is primarily associated with intrinsic 'resting-state' pVMPFC functional connectivity or an inability to modulate connectivity in a context-specific manner. To address these gaps, a pVMPFC region of interest was first identified using activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis. pVMPFC connectivity was then examined in relation to anhedonia and general distress symptoms of depression, using both resting-state and task-based functional magnetic resonance imaging involving pleasant music, in current MDD and healthy control groups. In MDD, pVMPFC connectivity was negatively correlated with anhedonia but not general distress during music listening in key reward- and emotion-processing regions, including nucleus accumbens, ventral tegmental area/substantia nigra, orbitofrontal cortex and insula, as well as fronto-temporal regions involved in tracking complex sound sequences, including middle temporal gyrus and inferior frontal gyrus. No such dissociations were observed in the healthy controls, and resting-state pVMPFC connectivity did not dissociate anhedonia from general distress in either group. Our findings demonstrate that anhedonia in MDD is associated with context-specific deficits in pVMPFC connectivity with the mesolimbic reward system when encountering pleasurable stimuli, rather than a static deficit in intrinsic resting-state connectivity. Critically, identification of functional circuits associated with anhedonia better characterizes MDD heterogeneity and may help track of one of its core symptoms.
Project description:The central extended amygdala (EAc)-including the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BST) and central nucleus of the amygdala (Ce)-plays a critical role in triggering fear and anxiety and is implicated in the development of a range of debilitating neuropsychiatric disorders. Although it is widely believed that these disorders reflect the coordinated activity of distributed neural circuits, the functional architecture of the EAc network and the degree to which the BST and the Ce show distinct patterns of functional connectivity is unclear. Here, we used a novel combination of imaging approaches to trace the connectivity of the BST and the Ce in 130 healthy, racially diverse, community-dwelling adults. Multiband imaging, high-precision registration techniques, and spatially unsmoothed data maximized anatomical specificity. Using newly developed seed regions, whole-brain regression analyses revealed robust functional connectivity between the BST and Ce via the sublenticular extended amygdala, the ribbon of subcortical gray matter encompassing the ventral amygdalofugal pathway. Both regions displayed coupling with the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), midcingulate cortex (MCC), insula, and anterior hippocampus. The BST showed stronger connectivity with the thalamus, striatum, periaqueductal gray, and several prefrontal territories. The only regions showing stronger functional connectivity with the Ce were neighboring regions of the dorsal amygdala, amygdalohippocampal area, and anterior hippocampus. These observations provide a baseline against which to compare a range of special populations, inform our understanding of the role of the EAc in normal and pathological fear and anxiety, and showcase image registration techniques that are likely to be useful for researchers working with "deidentified" neuroimaging data.