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Psychol Med. 2020 Mar 16:1-9. doi: 10.1017/S0033291720000471. [Epub ahead of print]

Neurocognitive correlates of working memory and emotional processing in postpartum psychosis: an fMRI study.

Author information

1
Department of Neuroimaging, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK.
2
Department of Psychosis Studies, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK.
3
CIBERSAM, Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental, Madrid, Spain.
4
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Mental Health Biomedical Research Centre at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King's College London, London, UK.
5
Section of Stress, Psychiatry and Immunology and Perinatal Psychiatry, Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neurosciences, King's College London, London, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Postpartum psychosis (PP) is a severe postpartum disorder. While working memory and emotional processing-related brain function are consistently impaired in psychoses unrelated to the puerperium, no studies have investigated them in PP.

METHODS:

Twenty-four women at risk of developing PP (11 developed an episode - PE; 13 remained well - NPE) and 20 healthy postpartum women completed two functional magnetic resonance imaging tasks within a year of delivery: working memory (n-back) and emotional face recognition (fearful faces). We compared women at-risk of PP to controls, as well as NPE, PE, and controls to test for potential effects of a PP episode occurrence.

RESULTS:

Women at-risk of PP and PE showed hyperactivation of lateral visual areas, precuneus, and posterior cingulate during the n-back task. The at-risk group as a whole, as well as the PE and NPE groups, showed hyperconnectivity of the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) with various parieto-occipito-temporo-cerebellar regions compared to controls during several n-back conditions. Increases in connectivity between the right DLPFC and ipsilateral middle temporal gyrus were observed in the PE group compared to NPE during 2-back. During the fearful faces task, at-risk women as a group showed hyperactivation of fronto-cingulo-subcortical regions, and hypoconnectivity between the left amygdala and ipsilateral occipito-parietal regions compared to controls. No significant performance differences were observed.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results present preliminary evidence of a differential nature of functional brain abnormalities in PP compared to the typically observed reduced connectivity with the DLPFC in psychoses unrelated to puerperium, such as bipolar disorder.

KEYWORDS:

Emotional processing; fMRI; functional connectivity; postpartum psychosis; working memory

PMID:
32174288
DOI:
10.1017/S0033291720000471

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