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Pedophilic sex offenders are characterised by reduced GABA concentration in dorsal anterior cingulate cortex

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Walter,  M
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Department High-Field Magnetic Resonance, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Ristow, I., Li, M., Colic, L., Marr, V., Födisch, C., von Düring, F., et al. (2018). Pedophilic sex offenders are characterised by reduced GABA concentration in dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. NeuroImage: Clinical, 18, 335-341. doi:10.1016/j.nicl.2018.01.018.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-7CA1-E
Abstract
A pedophilic disorder is characterised by abnormal sexual urges towards prepubescent children. Child abusive behavior is frequently a result of lack of behavioral inhibition and current treatment options entail, next to suppressing unchangeable sexual orientation, measures to increase cognitive and attentional control. We tested, if in brain regions subserving attentional control of behavior and perception of salient stimuli, such inhibition deficit can be observed also on the level of inhibitory neurotransmitters. We measured GABA concentration in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and in a control region, the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex (pgACC) in pedophilic sex offenders (N = 13) and matched controls (N = 13) using a 7 Tesla STEAM magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). In dACC but not in the control region pedophilic sex offenders showed reduced GABA/Cr concentrations compared to healthy controls. The reduction was robust after controlling for potential influence of age and gray matter proportion within the MRS voxel (p < 0.04). Importantly, reduced GABA/Cr in patients was correlated with lower self-control measured with the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (p = 0.028, r = −0.689). In a region related to cognitive control and salience mapping, pedophilic sex offenders showed reduction of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA which may be seen as a neuronal correlate of inhibition and behavioral control.