Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Brain fMRI May Benefit Mood Disorder Research

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Brain fMRI May Benefit Mood Disorder Research

Article excerpt


MIAMI BEACH -- Different brain regions appear to be responsible for processing emotional and cognitive stimuli during a common cognitive task used in psychiatric research, a medical imaging study showed.

Further, the activation of subcortical structures changed over time with repeated exposure to the task. The work has implications for researchers and clinicians involved with identifying new targets to treat mood disorders, according to David Fleck, Ph.D., of the center for imaging research at the University of Cincinnati.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) gives detailed anatomic and physiologic data about the brain and has increasing importance for neural outcomes research, said Dr. Fleck. His work, presented in a poster session, built on previous imaging research that showed differential activation of brain structures when emotional distraction interrupts a cognitive task.

Imaging offers investigators a "completely objective" measure of changes in brain function, and thus is an important tool in clinical trials for medications and treatments for mood disorders, Dr. Fleck said at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology, formerly known as the New Clinical Drug Evaluation Unit meeting. He noted that there can be variability in clinician assessments, and patients can both underreport and overreport symptoms. Neuroimaging provides a means to measure absolute change in brain activity or structure, or both, over time.

Forty-one healthy subjects were recruited for the study, which obtained baseline, 1-week, and 8-weekfMRI brain scans. During the scans, participants completed the Continuous Performance Task With Emotional and Neutral Distractor (CPT-END). This is a "visual oddball" task where participants are asked to differentiate a target--an image of a circle--from images of a square, and also from distracting images. Seventy percent of the time, subjects were shown a square. …

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