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Journal Article

Dopamine-modulated aversive emotion processing fails in alcohol-dependent patients


Schlagenhauf,  Florian
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Germany;
Max Planck Fellow Group Cognitive and Affective Control of Behavioural Adaptation, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Kienast, T., Schlagenhauf, F., Rapp, M. A., Wrase, J., Daig, I., Buchholz, H. G., et al. (2013). Dopamine-modulated aversive emotion processing fails in alcohol-dependent patients. Pharmacopsychiatry, 46(4), 130-136. doi:10.1055/s-0032-1331747.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0014-69C1-B
Introduction: Negative mood states after alcohol detoxification may enhance the relapse risk. As recently shown in healthy volunteers, dopamine storage capacity (V d) in the left amygdala was positively correlated with functional activation in the left amygdala and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) during an emotional task; high functional connectivity between the amygdala and the ACC, a region important for emotion regulation, was associated with low trait anxiety. Based on these findings, we now tested whether detoxified alcohol-dependent patients have a disrupted modulation of the anterior cingulate cortex activation in response to aversive stimuli by amygdala dopamine. Furthermore, we asked whether disrupted functional coupling between amygdala and ACC during aversive processing is related to trait anxiety. Methods: We used combined 6-[18F]-fluoro-l-DOPA positron emission tomography (PET), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and Spielberger's state-trait anxiety questionnaire (STAI) in 11 male detoxified alcohol-dependent patients compared to 13 matched healthy controls. Results: Unlike healthy controls, patients showed no significant correlation between our PET metric for dopamine storage capacity (FDOPA V d), in left amygdala and activation in left ACC. Moreover, the functional connectivity between amygdala and ACC during processing of aversive emotional stimuli was reduced in patients. Voxel-based morphometry did not reveal any discernible group differences in amygdala volume. Discussion: These results suggest that dopamine-modulated corticolimbic circuit function is important for responding to emotional information such that apparent functional deficits in this neuromodulatory circuitry may contribute to trait anxiety in alcohol-dependent patients.