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Psychol Med. 2017 Oct;47(13):2345-2357. doi: 10.1017/S0033291717000861. Epub 2017 Apr 11.

Differences in neural and cognitive response to emotional faces in middle-aged dizygotic twins at familial risk of depression.

Author information

1
Copenhagen Affective Disorders Research Centre,Copenhagen Psychiatric Centre, Copenhagen University Hospital,Rigshospitalet,Denmark.
2
Department of Psychiatry,University of Oxford,UK.
3
Institute of Brain, Behaviour and Mental Health, University of Manchester,UK.
4
Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance, Centre for Functional and Diagnostic Imaging and Research, Copenhagen University Hospital Hvidovre,Denmark.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Negative bias and aberrant neural processing of emotional faces are trait-marks of depression but findings in healthy high-risk groups are conflicting.

METHODS:

Healthy middle-aged dizygotic twins (N = 42) underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI): 22 twins had a co-twin history of depression (high-risk) and 20 were without co-twin history of depression (low-risk). During fMRI, participants viewed fearful and happy faces while performing a gender discrimination task. After the scan, they were given a faces dot-probe task, a facial expression recognition task and questionnaires assessing mood, personality traits and coping.

RESULTS:

Unexpectedly, high-risk twins showed reduced fear vigilance and lower recognition of fear and happiness relative to low-risk twins. During face processing in the scanner, high-risk twins displayed distinct negative functional coupling between the amygdala and ventral prefrontal cortex and pregenual anterior cingulate. This was accompanied by greater fear-specific fronto-temporal response and reduced fronto-occipital response to all emotional faces relative to baseline. The risk groups showed no differences in mood, subjective state or coping.

CONCLUSIONS:

Less susceptibility to fearful faces and negative cortico-limbic coupling during emotional face processing may reflect neurocognitive compensatory mechanisms in middle-aged dizygotic twins who remain healthy despite their familial risk of depression.

KEYWORDS:

Depression; emotional faces; emotional processing; endophenotype; fMRI; high-risk; resilience; twins

PMID:
28397623
DOI:
10.1017/S0033291717000861
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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