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Childhood maltreatment (CM) may modify the relationship between major depressive disorder (MDD) and hippocampal volume reduction. To disentangle the impact of MDD and CM on hippocampal volume we investigated the association between MDD and hippocampal volume in persons with and without a history of CM in two independent cohorts.
We used data of 262 participants from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA) (mean age 37 years, 32% male) and 636 participants from the SMART-Medea study (mean age 61 years, 81% male). In both studies a 12-month diagnosis of MDD and CM were assessed using a diagnostic interview. Hippocampal volume was measured in NESDA using FreeSurfer software on 3-T magnetic resonance (MR) images and in SMART it was manually outlined on 1.5-T MR images. With analysis of covariance adjusted for intracranial volume, age, gender and lifestyle factors we estimated the effects of MDD and CM on hippocampal volume.
In both cohorts CM was not significantly associated with hippocampal volume. After pooling the data MDD was associated with smaller hippocampal volume (B = −138.90 mm3, p = 0.05) and the interaction between MDD and CM reached significance (p = 0.04); in participants with CM, MDD was related to smaller hippocampal volume (NESDA: B = −316.8 mm3, p = 0.02; SMART: B = −407.6, p = 0.046), but not in participants without CM (p > 0.05).
Our study shows that in two independent cohorts, particularly in individuals with CM, a diagnosis of MDD is related to smaller hippocampal volume. Prospective studies are needed to further determine through which mechanism CM may amplify the relationship between MDD and hippocampal volume.
Impulsive decision making is a hallmark of frequently occurring addiction disorders including alcohol dependence (AD). Therefore, ameliorating impulsive decision making is a promising target for the treatment of AD. Previous studies have shown that modafinil enhances cognitive control functions in various psychiatric disorders. However, the effects of modafinil on delay discounting and its underlying neural correlates have not been investigated as yet. The aim of the current study was to investigate the effects of modafinil on neural correlates of impulsive decision making in abstinent AD patients and healthy control (HC) subjects.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, within-subjects cross-over study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was conducted in 14 AD patients and 16 HC subjects. All subjects participated in two fMRI sessions in which they either received a single dose of placebo or 200 mg of modafinil 2 h before the session. During fMRI, subjects completed a delay-discounting task to measure impulsive decision making.
Modafinil improved impulsive decision making in AD pateints, which was accompanied by enhanced recruitment of frontoparietal regions and reduced activation of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Moreover, modafinil-induced enhancement of functional connectivity between the superior frontal gyrus and ventral striatum was specifically associated with improvement in impulsive decision making.
These findings indicate that modafinil can improve impulsive decision making in AD patients through an enhanced coupling of prefrontal control regions and brain regions coding the subjective value of rewards. Therefore, the current study supports the implementation of modafinil in future clinical trials for AD.
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