26 research outputs found

    Oxytocin Receptor Genotype Modulates Ventral Striatal Activity to Social Cues and Response to Stressful Life Events

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    Background Common variants in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) have been shown to influence social and affective behavior and to moderate the effect of adverse experiences on risk for social-affective problems. However, the intermediate neurobiological mechanisms are not fully understood. Although human functional neuroimaging studies have reported that oxytocin effects on social behavior and emotional states are mediated by amygdala function, animal models indicate that oxytocin receptors in the ventral striatum (VS) modulate sensitivity to social reinforcers. This study aimed to comprehensively investigate OXTR-dependent brain mechanisms associated with social-affective problems. Methods In a sample of 1445 adolescents we tested the effect of 23-tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms across the OXTR region and stressful life events (SLEs) on functional magnetic resonance imaging blood oxygen level-dependent activity in the VS and amygdala to animated angry faces. Single nucleotide polymorphisms for which gene-wide significant effects on brain function were found were then carried forward to examine associations with social-affective problems. Results A gene-wide significant effect of rs237915 showed that adolescents with minor CC-genotype had significantly lower VS activity than CT/TT-carriers. Significant or nominally significant gene × environment effects on emotional problems (in girls) and peer problems (in boys) revealed a strong increase in clinical symptoms as a function of SLEs in CT/TT-carriers but not CC-homozygotes. However, in low-SLE environments, CC-homozygotes had more emotional problems (girls) and peer problems (boys). Moreover, among CC-homozygotes, reduced VS activity was related to more peer problems. Conclusions These findings suggest that a common OXTR-variant affects brain responsiveness to negative social cues and that in "risk- carriers" reduced sensitivity is simultaneously associated with more social-affective problems in "favorable environments" and greater resilience against stressful experiences. © 2014 Society of Biological Psychiatry

    Human subcortical brain asymmetries in 15,847 people worldwide reveal effects of age and sex

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    The two hemispheres of the human brain differ functionally and structurally. Despite over a century of research, the extent to which brain asymmetry is influenced by sex, handedness, age, and genetic factors is still controversial. Here we present the largest ever analysis of subcortical brain asymmetries, in a harmonized multi-site study using meta-analysis methods. Volumetric asymmetry of seven subcortical structures was assessed in 15,847 MRI scans from 52 datasets worldwide. There were sex differences in the asymmetry of the globus pallidus and putamen. Heritability estimates, derived from 1170 subjects belonging to 71 extended pedigrees, revealed that additive genetic factors influenced the asymmetry of these two structures and that of the hippocampus and thalamus. Handedness had no detectable effect on subcortical asymmetries, even in this unprecedented sample size, but the asymmetry of the putamen varied with age. Genetic drivers of asymmetry in the hippocampus, thalamus and basal ganglia may affect variability in human cognition, including susceptibility to psychiatric disorders

    Cortical thickness and resting-state cardiac function across the lifespan: a cross-sectional pooled mega analysis

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    Understanding the association between autonomic nervous system [ANS] function and brain morphology across the lifespan provides important insights into neurovisceral mechanisms underlying health and disease. Resting state ANS activity, indexed by measures of heart rate [HR] and its variability [HRV] has been associated with brain morphology, particularly cortical thickness [CT]. While findings have been mixed regarding the anatomical distribution and direction of the associations, these inconsistencies may be due to sex and age differences in HR/HRV and CT. Previous studies have been limited by small sample sizes, which impede the assessment of sex differences and aging effects on the association between ANS function and CT. To overcome these limitations, 20 groups worldwide contributed data collected under similar protocols of CT assessment and HR/HRV recording to be pooled in a mega-analysis (N = 1,218 (50.5% female), mean age 36.7 years (range: 12-87)). Findings suggest a decline in HRV as well as CT with increasing age. CT, particularly in the orbitofrontal cortex, explained additional variance in HRV, beyond the effects of aging. This pattern of results may suggest that the decline in HRV with increasing age is related to a decline in orbitofrontal CT. These effects were independent of sex and specific to HRV; with no significant association between CT and HR. Greater CT across the adult lifespan may be vital for the maintenance of healthy cardiac regulation via the ANS – or greater cardiac vagal activity as indirectly reflected in HRV may slow brain atrophy. Findings reveal an important association between cortical thickness and cardiac parasympathetic activity with implications for healthy aging and longevity that should be studied further in longitudinal research
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