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The cerebral mechanisms of traits associated with depersonalization-derealization disorder (DPRD) remain poorly understood.
Happy and sad emotion expressions were presented to DPRD and non-referred control (NC) subjects in an implicit event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) design, and correlated with self report scales reflecting typical co-morbidities of DPRD: depression, dissociation, anxiety, somatization.
Significant differences between the slopes of the two groups were observed for somatization in the right temporal operculum (happy) and ventral striatum, bilaterally (sad). Discriminative regions for symptoms of depression were the right pulvinar (happy) and left amygdala (sad). For dissociation, discriminative regions were the left mesial inferior temporal gyrus (happy) and left supramarginal gyrus (sad). For state anxiety, discriminative regions were the left inferior frontal gyrus (happy) and parahippocampal gyrus (sad). For trait anxiety, discriminative regions were the right caudate head (happy) and left superior temporal gyrus (sad).
The ascertained brain regions are in line with previous findings for the respective traits. The findings suggest separate brain systems for each trait.
Our results do not justify any bias for a certain nosological category in DPRD.
Depersonalisation disorder is characterised by emotion suppression, but the cerebral mechanisms of this symptom are not yet fully understood.
To compare brain activation and autonomic responses of individuals with the disorder and healthy controls.
Happy and sad emotion expressions in increasing intensities (neutral to intense) were presented in an implicit event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) design with simultaneous measurement of autonomic responses.
Participants with depersonalisation disorder showed fMRI signal decreases, whereas the control group showed signal increases in response to emotion intensity increases in both happy and sad expressions. The analysis of evoked haemodynamic responses from regions exhibiting functional connectivity between central and autonomic nervous systems indicated that in depersonalisation disorder initial modulations of haemodynamic response occurred significantly earlier (2s post-stimulus) than in the control group (4–6s post-stimulus).
The results suggest that fMRI signal decreases are possible correlates of emotion suppression in depersonalisation disorder.
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