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The medial forebrain bundle (MFB) is an important pathway of the reward system. Two branches have been described using diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based tractography: the infero-medial MFB (imMFB) and the supero-lateral MFB (slMFB). Previous studies point to white-matter microstructural alterations of the slMFB in major depressive disorder (MDD) during acute episodes. To extend this finding, this study investigates whether white-matter microstructure is also altered in MDD patients that are in remission. Further, we explore associations between diffusion MRI-based metrics of white-matter microstructure of imMFB, slMFB and hedonic tone, the ability to derive pleasure.
Eighteen remitted depressed (RD) and 22 never depressed (ND) participants underwent high angular resolution diffusion-weighted imaging (HARDI) scans. To reconstruct the two pathways of the MFB (imMFB and slMFB) we used the damped Richardson–Lucy (dRL) algorithm. Mean fractional anisotropy (FA) was sampled along the tracts.
Mean FA of imMFB, slMFB and a comparison tract (the middle cerebellar peduncle) did not differ between ND and RD participants. Hedonic capacity correlated negatively with mean FA of the left slMFB, explaining 21% of the variance.
Diffusion MRI-based metrics of white-matter microstructure of the MFB in RD do not differ from ND. Hedonic capacity is associated with altered white-matter microstructure of the slMFB.
Electroencephalography and magnetoencephalography (MEG) studies have identified alterations in gamma-band (30–80 Hz) cortical activity in schizophrenia and mood disorders, consistent with neural models of disturbed glutamate (and GABA) neuron influence over cortical pyramidal cells. Genetic evidence suggests specific deficits in GABA-A receptor function in schizoaffective bipolar disorder (SABP), a clinical syndrome with features of both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. This study investigated gamma oscillations in this under-researched disorder.
MEG was used to measure induced gamma and evoked responses to a visual grating stimulus, known to be a potent inducer of primary visual gamma oscillations, in 15 individuals with remitted SABP, defined using Research Diagnostic Criteria, and 22 age- and sex-matched healthy controls.
Individuals with SABP demonstrated increased sustained visual cortical power in the gamma band (t35 = −2.56, p = 0.015) compared to controls. There were no group differences in baseline gamma power, transient or sustained gamma frequency, alpha band responses or pattern onset visual-evoked responses.
Gamma power is increased in remitted SABP, which reflects an abnormality in the cortical inhibitory-excitatory balance. Although an interaction between gamma power and medication can not be ruled out, there were no group differences in evoked responses or baseline measures. Further work is needed in other clinical populations and at-risk relatives. Pharmaco-magnetoencephalography studies will help to elucidate the specific GABA and glutamate pathways affected.
The majority of people at ultra high risk (UHR) of psychosis also present with co-morbid affective disorders such as depression or anxiety. The neuroanatomical and clinical impact of UHR co-morbidity is unknown.
We investigated group differences in grey matter volume using baseline magnetic resonance images from 121 participants in four groups: UHR with depressive or anxiety co-morbidity; UHR alone; major depressive disorder; and healthy controls. The impact of grey matter volume on baseline and longitudinal clinical/functional data was assessed with regression analyses.
The UHR-co-morbidity group had lower grey matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex than the UHR-alone group, with an intermediate effect between controls and patients with major depressive disorder. In the UHR-co-morbidity group, baseline anterior cingulate volume was negatively correlated with baseline suicidality/self-harm and obsessive–compulsive disorder symptoms.
Co-morbid depression and anxiety disorders contributed distinctive grey matter volume reductions of the anterior cingulate cortex in people at UHR of psychosis. These volumetric deficits were correlated with baseline measures of depression and anxiety, suggesting that co-morbid depressive and anxiety diagnoses should be carefully considered in future clinical and imaging studies of the psychosis high-risk state.