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World J Biol Psychiatry. 2011 Aug;12(5):319-39. doi: 10.3109/15622975.2011.556200. Epub 2011 Mar 8.

The suicidal mind and brain: a review of neuropsychological and neuroimaging studies.

Author information

1
McGill Group for Suicide Studies, Douglas Mental Health University Institute, Montreal, Québec, Canada. fabrice.jollant@mcgill.ca

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

We aimed at reviewing studies exploring dysfunctional cognitive processes, and their neuroanatomical basis, in suicidal behaviour, and to develop a neurocognitive working model.

METHODS:

A literature search was conducted.

RESULTS:

Several limitations were found. The main reported neuropsychological findings are a higher attention to specific negative emotional stimuli, impaired decision-making, lower problem-solving abilities, reduced verbal fluency, and possible reduced non-specific attention and reversal learning in suicide attempters. Neuroimaging studies mainly showed the involvement of ventrolateral orbital, dorsomedial and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices, the anterior cingulate gyrus, and, to a lesser extent, the amygdala. In addition, alterations in white matter connections are suggested.

CONCLUSIONS:

These studies support the concept of alterations in suicidal behaviour distinct from those of comorbid disorders. We propose that a series of neurocognitive dysfunctions, some with trait-like characteristics, may facilitate the development of a suicidal crisis during stressful circumstances: (1) an altered modulation of value attribution, (2) an inadequate regulation of emotional and cognitive responses, and (3) a facilitation of acts in an emotional context. This preliminary model may represent a framework for the design of future studies on the pathophysiology, prediction and prevention of these complex human behaviours.

PMID:
21385016
DOI:
10.3109/15622975.2011.556200
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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