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  A single dose of escitalopram blunts the neural response in the thalamus and caudate during monetary loss

Lewis, C. A., Mueller, K., Zsido, R., Reinelt, J., Regenthal, R., Okon-Singer, H., et al. (2021). A single dose of escitalopram blunts the neural response in the thalamus and caudate during monetary loss. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, 46(3), E319-E327. doi:10.1503/jpn.200121.

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Lewis, Carolin Annette1, 2, Author           
Mueller, Karsten3, 4, Author           
Zsido, Rachel1, Author           
Reinelt, Janis5, Author           
Regenthal, Ralf6, Author
Okon-Singer, Hadas5, 7, 8, Author           
Forbes, Erika E.9, Author
Villringer, Arno5, 10, Author           
Sacher, Julia1, 10, Author           
1Minerva Research Group EGG (Emotion & neuroimaGinG) Lab, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_3230775              
2Department for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Eberhard Karls University Tübingen, Germany, ou_persistent22              
3Method and Development Group Neural Data Science and Statistical Computing, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_3282987              
4Methods and Development Group Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, Leipzig, DE, ou_634558              
5Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_634549              
6Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Rudolf-Boehm-Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Leipzig, Germany, ou_persistent22              
7Department of Psychology, University of Haifa, Isreal, ou_persistent22              
8Integrated Brain and Behavior Research Center (IBBR), University of Haifa, Isreal, ou_persistent22              
9Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA, ou_persistent22              
10Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University of Leipzig, Germany, ou_persistent22              


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 Abstract: Background: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) show acute effects on the neural processes associated with negative affective bias in healthy people and people with depression. However, whether and how SSRIs also affect reward and punishment processing on a similarly rapid time scale remains unclear.

Methods: We investigated the effects of an acute and clinically relevant dose (20 mg) of the SSRI escitalopram on brain response during reward and punishment processing in 19 healthy participants. In a doubleblind, placebo-controlled study using functional MRI, participants performed a well-established monetary reward task at 3 time points: at baseline; after receiving placebo or escitalopram; and after receiving placebo or escitalopram following an 8-week washout period.

Results: Acute escitalopram administration reduced blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) response during punishment feedback in the right thalamus (family-wise error corrected [FWE] p = 0.013 at peak level) and the right caudate head (pFWE = 0.011 at peak level) compared to placebo. We did not detect any significant BOLD changes during reward feedback.

Limitations: We included only healthy participants, so interpretation of findings are limited to the healthy human brain and require future testing in patient populations. The paradigm we used was based on monetary stimuli, and results may not be generalizable to other forms of reward.

Conclusion: Our findings extend theories of rapid SSRI action on the neural processing of rewarding and aversive stimuli and suggest a specific and acute effect of escitalopram in the punishment neurocircuitry.


Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2020-11-202020-07-062020-12-122021-05-012021-05-01
 Publication Status: Issued
 Pages: -
 Publishing info: -
 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Type: -
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1503/jpn.200121
PMID: 33904667
PMC: PMC8327975
 Degree: -



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Project name : -
Grant ID : -
Funding program : Branco Weiss Fellowship
Funding organization : Society in Science
Project name : -
Grant ID : 25032
Funding program : National Association for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD)
Funding organization : Brain and Behavior Research Foundation
Project name : -
Grant ID : -
Funding program : -
Funding organization : Max Planck Society

Source 1

Title: Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience
  Abbreviation : J Psychiatry Neurosci
Source Genre: Journal
Publ. Info: Ottawa, Ont., Canada : Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 46 (3) Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: E319 - E327 Identifier: ISSN: 1180-4882
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/1180-4882