Alpha oscillation neurofeedback modulates amygdala complex connectivity and arousal in posttraumatic stress disorder.
ABSTRACT: Electroencephalogram (EEG) neurofeedback aimed at reducing the amplitude of the alpha-rhythm has been shown to alter neural networks associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), leading to symptom alleviation. Critically, the amygdala is thought to be one of the central brain regions mediating PTSD symptoms. In the current study, we compare directly patterns of amygdala complex connectivity using fMRI, before and after EEG neurofeedback, in order to observe subcortical mechanisms associated with behavioural and alpha oscillatory changes among patients.We examined basolateral (BLA), centromedial (CMA), and superficial (SFA) amygdala complex resting-state functional connectivity using a seed-based approach via SPM Anatomy Toolbox. Amygdala complex connectivity was measured in twenty-one individuals with PTSD, before and after a 30-minute session of EEG neurofeedback targeting alpha desynchronization.EEG neurofeedback was associated with a shift in amygdala complex connectivity from areas implicated in defensive, emotional, and fear processing/memory retrieval (left BLA and left SFA to the periaqueductal gray, and left SFA to the left hippocampus) to prefrontal areas implicated in emotion regulation/modulation (right CMA to the medial prefrontal cortex). This shift in amygdala complex connectivity was associated with reduced arousal, greater resting alpha synchronization, and was negatively correlated to PTSD symptom severity.These findings have significant implications for developing targeted non-invasive treatment interventions for PTSD patients that utilize alpha oscillatory neurofeedback, showing evidence of neuronal reconfiguration between areas highly implicated in the disorder, in addition to acute symptom alleviation.
Project description:Previous studies point towards differential connectivity patterns among basolateral (BLA) and centromedial (CMA) amygdala regions in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as compared with controls. Here we describe the first study to compare directly connectivity patterns of the BLA and CMA complexes between PTSD patients with and without the dissociative subtype (PTSD+DS and PTSD-DS, respectively). Amygdala connectivity to regulatory prefrontal regions and parietal regions involved in consciousness and proprioception were expected to differ between these two groups based on differential limbic regulation and behavioral symptoms. PTSD patients (n=49) with (n=13) and without (n=36) the dissociative subtype and age-matched healthy controls (n=40) underwent resting-state fMRI. Bilateral BLA and CMA connectivity patterns were compared using a seed-based approach via SPM Anatomy Toolbox. Among patients with PTSD, the PTSD+DS group exhibited greater amygdala functional connectivity to prefrontal regions involved in emotion regulation (bilateral BLA and left CMA to the middle frontal gyrus and bilateral CMA to the medial frontal gyrus) as compared with the PTSD-DS group. In addition, the PTSD+DS group showed greater amygdala connectivity to regions involved in consciousness, awareness, and proprioception-implicated in depersonalization and derealization (left BLA to superior parietal lobe and cerebellar culmen; left CMA to dorsal posterior cingulate and precuneus). Differences in amygdala complex connectivity to specific brain regions parallel the unique symptom profiles of the PTSD subgroups and point towards unique biological markers of the dissociative subtype of PTSD.
Project description:Self-regulation of brain activation using real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging neurofeedback (rtfMRI-nf) is an emerging approach for treating mood and anxiety disorders. The effect of neurofeedback training on resting-state functional connectivity warrants investigation as changes in spontaneous brain activation could reflect the association between sustained symptom relief and brain alteration. We investigated the effect of amygdala-focused rtfMRI-nf training on resting-state functional connectivity in combat veterans with and without posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who were trained to increase a feedback signal reflecting left amygdala activity while recalling positive autobiographical memories (Zotev et al., 2018). The analysis was performed in three stages: i) first, we investigated the connectivity in the left amygdala region; ii) next, we focused on the abnormal resting-state functional connectivity identified in our previous analysis of this data (Misaki et al., 2018); and iii) finally, we performed a novel data-driven longitudinal connectome-wide analysis. We introduced a longitudinal multivariate distance matrix regression (MDMR) analysis to comprehensively examine neurofeedback training effects beyond those associated with abnormal baseline connectivity. These comprehensive exploratory analyses suggested that abnormal resting-state connectivity for combat veterans with PTSD was partly normalized after the training. This included hypoconnectivities between the left amygdala and the left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (vlPFC) and between the supplementary motor area (SMA) and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC). The increase of SMA-dACC connectivity was associated with PTSD symptom reduction. Longitudinal MDMR analysis found a connectivity change between the precuneus and the left superior frontal cortex. The connectivity increase was associated with a decrease in hyperarousal symptoms. The abnormal connectivity for combat veterans without PTSD - such as hypoconnectivity in the precuneus with a superior frontal region and hyperconnectivity in the posterior insula with several regions - could also be normalized after the training. These results suggested that the rtfMRI-nf training effect was not limited to a feedback target region and symptom relief could be mediated by brain modulation in several regions other than in a feedback target area. While further confirmatory research is needed, the results may provide valuable insight into treatment effects on the whole brain resting-state connectivity.
Project description:Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a chronic and disabling neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by insufficient top-down modulation of the amygdala activity by the prefrontal cortex. Real-time fMRI neurofeedback (rtfMRI-nf) is an emerging method with potential for modifying the amygdala-prefrontal interactions. We report the first controlled emotion self-regulation study in veterans with combat-related PTSD utilizing rtfMRI-nf of the amygdala activity. PTSD patients in the experimental group (EG, n?=?20) learned to upregulate blood?oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) activity of the left amygdala (LA) using the rtfMRI-nf during a happy emotion induction task. PTSD patients in the control group (CG, n?=?11) were provided with a sham rtfMRI-nf. The study included three rtfMRI-nf training sessions, and EEG recordings were performed simultaneously with fMRI. PTSD severity was assessed before and after the training using the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS). The EG participants who completed the study showed a significant reduction in total CAPS ratings, including significant reductions in avoidance and hyperarousal symptoms. They also exhibited a significant reduction in comorbid depression severity. Overall, 80% of the EG participants demonstrated clinically meaningful reductions in CAPS ratings, compared to 38% in the CG. No significant difference in the CAPS rating changes was observed between the groups. During the first rtfMRI-nf session, functional connectivity of the LA with the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) was progressively enhanced, and this enhancement significantly and positively correlated with the initial CAPS ratings. Left-lateralized enhancement in upper alpha EEG coherence also exhibited a significant positive correlation with the initial CAPS. Reduction in PTSD severity between the first and last rtfMRI-nf sessions significantly correlated with enhancement in functional connectivity between the LA and the left DLPFC. Our results demonstrate that the rtfMRI-nf of the amygdala activity has the potential to correct the amygdala-prefrontal functional connectivity deficiencies specific to PTSD.
Project description:Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by altered functional connectivity of the amygdala complexes at rest. However, amygdala complex connectivity during conscious and subconscious threat processing remains to be elucidated. Here, we investigate specific connectivity of the centromedial amygdala (CMA) and basolateral amygdala (BLA) during conscious and subconscious processing of trauma-related words among individuals with PTSD (n = 26) as compared to non-trauma-exposed controls (n = 20). Psycho-physiological interaction analyses were performed using the right and left amygdala complexes as regions of interest during conscious and subconscious trauma word processing. These analyses revealed a differential, context-dependent responses by each amygdala seed during trauma processing in PTSD. Specifically, relative to controls, during subconscious processing, individuals with PTSD demonstrated increased connectivity of the CMA with the superior frontal gyrus, accompanied by a pattern of decreased connectivity between the BLA and the superior colliculus. During conscious processing, relative to controls, individuals with PTSD showed increased connectivity between the CMA and the pulvinar. These findings demonstrate alterations in amygdala subregion functional connectivity in PTSD and highlight the disruption of the innate alarm network during both conscious and subconscious trauma processing in this disorder.
Project description:Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a prevalent, debilitating, and difficult to treat psychiatric disorder. Very little is known of how PTSD affects neuroplasticity in the developing adolescent brain. Whereas multiple lines of research implicate amygdala-centered network dysfunction in the pathophysiology of adult PTSD, no study has yet examined the functional architecture of amygdala subregional networks in adolescent PTSD. Using intrinsic functional connectivity analysis, we investigated functional connectivity of the basolateral (BLA) and centromedial (CMA) amygdala in 19 sexually abused adolescents with PTSD relative to 23 matched controls. Additionally, we examined whether altered amygdala subregional connectivity coincides with abnormal grey matter volume of the amygdaloid complex. Our analysis revealed abnormal amygdalar connectivity and morphology in adolescent PTSD patients. More specifically, PTSD patients showed diminished right BLA connectivity with a cluster including dorsal and ventral portions of the anterior cingulate and medial prefrontal cortices (p < 0.05, corrected). In contrast, PTSD patients showed increased left CMA connectivity with a cluster including the orbitofrontal and subcallosal cortices (p < 0.05, corrected). Critically, these connectivity changes coincided with diminished grey matter volume within BLA and CMA subnuclei (p < 0.05, corrected), with CMA connectivity shifts additionally relating to more severe symptoms of PTSD. These findings provide unique insights into how perturbations in major amygdalar circuits could hamper fear regulation and drive excessive acquisition and expression of fear in PTSD. As such, they represent an important step toward characterizing the neurocircuitry of adolescent PTSD, thereby informing the development of reliable biomarkers and potential therapeutic targets.
Project description:The amygdala has long been considered a vital region involved in acute and chronic stress responses. Extensive evidences from animal and human studies suggest that the functional connectivity of amygdalar subnuclei (basolateral amygdala (BLA), centromedial amygdala (CMA) and superficial amygdala (SFA)) undergo specific alterations in stress-related psychopathology. However, whether and how intrinsic functional connectivity within the amygdalar subcomponents is differently altered in the aftermath of an acute stressor remains unknown. In the present study, using a within-subject design, we examined the impact of acute psychological social stress on the functional connectivity of amygdalar subregions at rest. Results showed that stress mainly affected the connectivity pattern of CMA. In particular, in the stress condition compared with the control, the connectivity of CMA to left posterior cingulate cortex and right thalamus was decreased under stress, while the connectivity of CMA to left caudate connectivity was increased at rest post-stressor. The findings suggest that healthy individuals may adapt to threatening surroundings by reducing threatening information input, and shifting to well-learned procedural behaviors.
Project description:The amygdala is a major structure that orchestrates defensive reactions to environmental threats and is implicated in hypervigilance and symptoms of heightened arousal in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The basolateral and centromedial amygdala (CMA) complexes are functionally heterogeneous, with distinct roles in learning and expressing fear behaviors. PTSD differences in amygdala-complex function and functional connectivity with cortical and subcortical structures remain unclear. Recent military veterans with PTSD (n=20) and matched trauma-exposed controls (n=22) underwent a resting-state fMRI scan to measure task-free synchronous blood-oxygen level dependent activity. Whole-brain voxel-wise functional connectivity of basolateral and CMA seeds was compared between groups. The PTSD group had stronger functional connectivity of the basolateral amygdala (BLA) complex with the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, and dorsal ACC than the trauma-exposed control group (p<0.05; corrected). The trauma-exposed control group had stronger functional connectivity of the BLA complex with the left inferior frontal gyrus than the PTSD group (p<0.05; corrected). The CMA complex lacked connectivity differences between groups. We found PTSD modulates BLA complex connectivity with prefrontal cortical targets implicated in cognitive control of emotional information, which are central to explanations of core PTSD symptoms. PTSD differences in resting-state connectivity of BLA complex could be biasing processes in target regions that support behaviors central to prevailing laboratory models of PTSD such as associative fear learning. Further research is needed to investigate how differences in functional connectivity of amygdala complexes affect target regions that govern behavior, cognition, and affect in PTSD.
Project description:Individuals with both post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder (PTSD+MDD) often show greater social and occupational impairment and poorer treatment response than individuals with PTSD alone. Increasing evidence reveals that the amygdala, a brain region implicated in the pathophysiology of both of these conditions, is a complex of structurally and functionally heterogeneous nuclei. Quantifying the functional connectivity of two key amygdala subregions, the basolateral (BLA) and centromedial (CMA), in PTSD+MDD and PTSD-alone could advance our understanding of the neurocircuitry of these conditions. 18 patients with PTSD+MDD, 28 with PTSD-alone, and 50 trauma exposed healthy controls (TEHC), all from a cohort who survived the same large earthquake in China, underwent resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging. Bilateral BLA and CMA functional connectivity (FC) maps were created using a seed-based approach for each participant. The analysis of covariance of FC was used to determine between-group differences. A significant interaction between amygdala subregion and diagnostic group suggested that differences in connectivity patterns between the two seeds were mediated by diagnosis. Post-hoc analyses revealed that PTSD+MDD patients showed weaker connectivity between right BLA and (a) left anterior cingulate cortex/supplementary motor area, and (b) bilateral putamen/pallidum, compared with PTSD-alone patients. Higher CMA connectivities left ACC/SMA were also observed in PTSD+MDD compared with PTSD-alone. An inverse relationship between the connectivity of right BLA with right putamen/pallidum and MDD symptoms was found in PTSD+MDD. These findings indicate a relationship between the neural pathophysiology of PTSD+MDD compared with PTSD-alone and TEHC and may inform future clinical interventions.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Individuals with comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder (PTSD-MDD) often exhibit greater functional impairment and poorer treatment response than individuals with PTSD alone. Research has not determined whether PTSD-MDD is associated with different network connectivity abnormalities than PTSD alone. METHODS:We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure resting state functional connectivity (rs-FC) patterns of brain regions involved in fear and reward processing in three groups: patients with PTSD-alone (n = 27), PTSD-MDD (n = 21), and trauma-exposed healthy controls (TEHCs, n = 34). Based on previous research, seeds included basolateral amygdala (BLA), centromedial amygdala (CMA), and nucleus accumbens (NAcc). RESULTS:Regardless of MDD comorbidity, PTSD was associated with decreased connectivity of BLA-orbitalfrontal cortex (OFC) and CMA-thalamus pathways, key to fear processing, and fear expression, respectively. PTSD-MDD, compared to PTSD-alone and TEHC, was associated with decreased connectivity across multiple amygdala and striatal-subcortical pathways: BLA-OFC, NAcc-thalamus, and NAcc-hippocampus. Further, while both the BLA-OFC and the NAcc-thalamus pathways were correlated with MDD symptoms, PTSD symptoms correlated with the amygdala pathways (BLA-OFC; CMA-thalamus) only. CONCLUSIONS:Comorbid PTSD-MDD may be associated with multifaceted functional connectivity alterations in both fear and reward systems. Clinical implications are discussed.