Amygdala Perfusion Is Predicted by Its Functional Connectivity with the Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex and Negative Affect
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CitationCoombs III, Garth, Marco L. Loggia, Douglas N. Greve, and Daphne J. Holt. 2014. “Amygdala Perfusion Is Predicted by Its Functional Connectivity with the Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex and Negative Affect.” PLoS ONE 9 (5): e97466. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097466. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0097466.
AbstractBackground: Previous studies have shown that the activity of the amygdala is elevated in people experiencing clinical and subclinical levels of anxiety and depression (negative affect). It has been proposed that a reduction in inhibitory input to the amygdala from the prefrontal cortex and resultant over-activity of the amygdala underlies this association. Prior studies have found relationships between negative affect and 1) amygdala over-activity and 2) reduced amygdala-prefrontal connectivity. However, it is not known whether elevated amygdala activity is associated with decreased amygdala-prefrontal connectivity during negative affect states. Methods: Here we used resting-state arterial spin labeling (ASL) and blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in combination to test this model, measuring the activity (regional cerebral blood flow, rCBF) and functional connectivity (correlated fluctuations in the BOLD signal) of one subregion of the amygdala with strong connections with the prefrontal cortex, the basolateral nucleus (BLA), and subsyndromal anxiety levels in 38 healthy subjects. Results: BLA rCBF was strongly correlated with anxiety levels. Moreover, both BLA rCBF and anxiety were inversely correlated with the strength of the functional coupling of the BLA with the caudal ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Lastly, BLA perfusion was found to be a mediator of the relationship between BLA-prefrontal connectivity and anxiety. Conclusions: These results show that both perfusion of the BLA and a measure of its functional coupling with the prefrontal cortex directly index anxiety levels in healthy subjects, and that low BLA-prefrontal connectivity may lead to increased BLA activity and resulting anxiety. Thus, these data provide key evidence for an often-cited circuitry model of negative affect, using a novel, multi-modal imaging approach.
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