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Establishing neurobiological markers of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is essential to aid in diagnosis and treatment development. Fear processing deficits are central to PTSD, and their neural signatures may be used as such markers.
Here, we conducted a meta-analysis of seven Pavlovian fear conditioning fMRI studies comparing 156 patients with PTSD and 148 trauma-exposed healthy controls (TEHC) using seed-based d-mapping, to contrast neural correlates of experimental phases, namely conditioning, extinction learning, and extinction recall.
Patients with PTSD, as compared to TEHCs, exhibited increased activation in the anterior hippocampus (extending to the amygdala) and medial prefrontal cortex during conditioning; in the anterior hippocampus-amygdala regions during extinction learning; and in the anterior hippocampus-amygdala and medial prefrontal areas during extinction recall. Yet, patients with PTSD have shown an overall decreased activation in the thalamus during all phases in this meta-analysis.
Findings from this metanalysis suggest that PTSD is characterized by increased activation in areas related to salience and threat, and lower activation in the thalamus, a key relay hub between subcortical areas. If replicated, these fear network alterations may serve as objective diagnostic markers for PTSD, and potential targets for novel treatment development, including pharmacological and brain stimulation interventions. Future longitudinal studies are needed to examine whether these observed network alteration in PTSD are the cause or the consequence of PTSD.
A multitude of risk/protective factors for anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders have been proposed. We conducted an umbrella review to summarize the evidence of the associations between risk/protective factors and each of the following disorders: specific phobia, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and to assess the strength of this evidence whilst controlling for several biases.
Publication databases were searched for systematic reviews and meta-analyses examining associations between potential risk/protective factors and each of the disorders investigated. The evidence of the association between each factor and disorder was graded into convincing, highly suggestive, suggestive, weak, or non-significant according to a standardized classification based on: number of cases (>1000), random-effects p-values, 95% prediction intervals, confidence interval of the largest study, heterogeneity between studies, study effects, and excess of significance.
Nineteen systematic reviews and meta-analyses were included, corresponding to 216 individual studies covering 427 potential risk/protective factors. Only one factor association (early physical trauma as a risk factor for social anxiety disorder, OR 2.59, 95% CI 2.17–3.1) met all the criteria for convincing evidence. When excluding the requirement for more than 1000 cases, five factor associations met the other criteria for convincing evidence and 22 met the remaining criteria for highly suggestive evidence.
Although the amount and quality of the evidence for most risk/protective factors for anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders is limited, a number of factors significantly increase the risk for these disorders, may have potential prognostic ability and inform prevention.
Delusional disorder has been the subject of very little investigation
using brain imaging.
To examine potential structural and/or functional brain abnormalities in
We used structural imaging (voxel-based morphometry, VBM) and functional
imaging (during performance of the n-back task and
whole-brain resting connectivity analysis) to examine 22 patients meeting
DSM-IV criteria for delusional disorder and 44 matched healthy
The patients showed grey matter reductions in the medial frontal/anterior
cingulate cortex and bilateral insula on unmodulated (but not on
modulated) VBM analysis, failure of de-activation in the medial
frontal/anterior cingulate cortex during performance of the
n-back task, and decreased resting-state connectivity
in the bilateral insula.
The findings provide evidence of brain abnormality in the medial
frontal/anterior cingulate cortex and insula in delusional disorder. A
role for the former region in the pathogenesis of delusions is consistent
with several other lines of evidence.
Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) has similar prevalence rates across
ethnic groups. However, ethnic minorities are underrepresented in
clinical trials of OCD. It is unclear whether this is also the case in
To explore whether ethnic minorities with OCD are underrepresented in
secondary and tertiary mental health services in the South London and
Maudsley (SLaM) NHS Foundation Trust.
The ethnic distribution of patients with OCD seen between 1999 and 2013
in SLaM (n = 1528) was compared with that of the general
population in the catchment area using census data. A cohort of patients
with depression (n = 22 716) was used for comparative
Ethnic minorities with OCD were severely underrepresented across services
(–57%, 95% CI –62% to –52%). The magnitude of the observed inequalities
was significantly more pronounced than in depression (–29%, 95% CI–31%
There is a clear need to understand the reasons behind such ethnic
inequalities and implement measures to reduce them.
Specific cortico-striato-thalamic circuits are hypothesised to mediate the symptoms of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), but structural neuroimaging studies have been inconsistent.
To conduct a meta-analysis of published and unpublished voxel-based morphometry studies in OCD.
Twelve data-sets comprising 401 people with OCD and 376 healthy controls met inclusion criteria. A new improved voxel-based meta-analytic method, signed differential mapping (SDM), was developed to examine regions of increased and decreased grey matter volume in the OCD group v. control group.
No between-group differences were found in global grey matter volumes. People with OCD had increased regional grey matter volumes in bilateral lenticular nuclei, extending to the caudate nuclei, as well as decreased volumes in bilateral dorsal medial frontal/anterior cingulate gyri. A descriptive analysis of quartiles, a sensitivity analysis as well as analyses of subgroups further confirmed these findings. Meta-regression analyses showed that studies that included individuals with more severe OCD were significantly more likely to report increased grey matter volumes in the basal ganglia. No effect of current antidepressant treatment was observed.
The results support a dorsal prefrontal–striatal model of the disorder and raise the question of whether functional alterations in other brain regions commonly associated with OCD, such as the orbitofrontal cortex, may reflect secondary compensatory strategies. Whether the reported differences between participants with OCD and controls precede the onset of the symptoms and whether they are specific to OCD remains to be established.
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