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- Generalized anxiety modulates frontal and limbic activation in major depression
- This article discusses generalized anxiety modulates frontal and limbic activation in major depression. Abstract: Background: Anxiety is relatively common in depression and capable of modifying the severity and course of depression. Yet our understanding of how anxiety modulates frontal and limbic activation in depression is limited. Methods: The authors used functional magnetic resonance imaging and two emotional information processing tasks to examine frontal and limbic activation in ten patients with major depression and comorbid with preceding generalized anxiety (MDD/GAD) and ten non-depressed controls. Results: Consistent with prior studies on depression, MDD/GAD patients showed hypoactivation in medial and middle frontal regions, as well as in the anterior cingulate and insula. However, heightened anxiety in MDD/GAD patients was associated with increased activation in middle frontal regions and the insula and the effects varied with the type of emotional information presented. Conclusions: The authors' findings highlight frontal and limbic hypoactivation in patients with depression and comorbid anxiety and indicate that anxiety level may modulate frontal and limbic activation depending upon the emotional context. One implication of this finding is that divergent findings reported in the imaging literature on depression could reflect modulation of activation by anxiety level in response to different types of emotional information.
- Neural correlates of derived relational responding on tests of stimulus equivalence
- This article discusses neural correlates of derived relational responding on tests of stimulus equivalence. Background: An essential component of cognition and language involves the formation of new conditional relations between stimuli based upon prior experiences. Results of investigations on transitive inference (TI) highlight a prominent role for the medial temporal lobe in maintaining associative relations among sequentially arranged stimuli (A > B > C > D > E). In this investigation, medial temporal lobe activity was assessed while subjects completed "Stimulus Equivalence" (SE) tests that required deriving conditional relations among stimuli within a class (A ≡ B ≡ C). Methods: Stimuli consisted of six consonant-vowel-consonant triads divided into two classes (A1, B1, C1; A2, B2, C2). A simultaneous matching-to-sample task and differential reinforcement were employed during pretraining to establish the conditional relations A1:B1 and B1:C1 in class 1 and A2:B2 and B2:C2 in class 2. During functional neuroimaging, recombined stimulus pairs were presented and subjects judged (yes/no) whether stimuli were related. SE tests involved presenting three different types of within-class pairs: Symmetrical (B1 A1; C1 B1; B2 A2; C2 B2), and Transitive (A1 C1; A2 C2) and Equivalence (C1 A1; C2 A2) relations separated by a nodal stimulus. Cross-class 'Foils' consisting of unrelated stimuli (e.g., A1 C2) were also presented. Results: Relative to cross-class Foils, Transitive and Equivalence relations requiring inferential judgements elicited bilateral activation in the anterior hippocampus while Symmetrical relations elicited activation in the parahippocampus. Relative to each derived relation, Foils generally elicited bilateral activation in the parahippocampus, as well as in frontal and parietal lobe regions. Conclusion: Activation observed in the hippocampus to nodal-dependent derived conditional relations (Transitive and Equivalence relations) highlights its involvement in maintaining relational structure and flexible memory expression among stimuli within a class (A ≡ B ≡ C).
- Pediatric functional magnetic resonance neuroimaging: tactics for encouraging task compliance
- This article discusses pediatric functional magnetic resonance neuroimaging. Background: Neuroimaging technology has afforded advances in our understanding of normal and pathological brain function and development in children and adolescents. However, noncompliance involving the inability to remain in the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner to complete tasks is one common and significant problem. Task noncompliance is an especially significant problem in pediatric functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) research because increases in noncompliance produces a greater risk that a study sample will not be representative of the study population. Method: In this preliminary investigation, the authors describe the development and application of an approach for increasing the number of fMRI tasks children complete during neuroimaging. Twenty-eight healthy children ages 9-13 years participated. Generalization of the approach was examined in additional fMRI and event-related potential investigations with children at risk for depression, children with anxiety and children with depression (N = 120). Essential features of the approach include a preference assessment for identifying multiple individualized rewards, increasing reinforcement rates during imaging by pairing tasks with chosen rewards and presenting a visual 'road map' listing tasks, rewards and current progress. Results: Our results showing a higher percentage of fMRI task completion by healthy children provides proof of concept data for the recommended tactics. Additional support was provided by results showing our approach generalized to several additional fMRI and event-related potential investigations and clinical populations. Discussion: The authors propose that some forms of task noncompliance may emerge from less than optimal reward protocols. While the authors' findings may not directly support the effectiveness of the multiple reward compliance protocol increased attention to how rewards are selected and delivered may aid cooperation with completing fMRI tasks. Conclusion: The proposed approach contributes to the pediatric neuroimaging literature by providing a useful way to conceptualize and measure task noncompliance and by providing simple cost effective tactics for improving the effectiveness of common reward-based protocols.