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Journal Article

Nuclei-specific hypothalamus networks predict a dimensional marker of stress in humans

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Jensen,  Daria
Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, United Kingdom;
Wellcome Centre For Integrative Neuroimaging, Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity (OHBA), University of Oxford, United Kingdom;
Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, University of Oxford, United Kingdom;
Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University of Leipzig, Germany;
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Jensen_2024.pdf
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Jensen_2024_Suppl.pdf
(Supplementary material), 20MB

Citation

Jensen, D., Ebmeier, K. P., Suri, S., Rushworth, M. F. S., & Klein-Flügge, M. C. (2024). Nuclei-specific hypothalamus networks predict a dimensional marker of stress in humans. Nature Communications, 15(1): 2426. doi:10.1038/s41467-024-46275-y.


Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000F-0C12-0
Abstract
The hypothalamus is part of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis which activates stress responses through release of cortisol. It is a small but heterogeneous structure comprising multiple nuclei. In vivo human neuroimaging has rarely succeeded in recording signals from individual hypothalamus nuclei. Here we use human resting-state fMRI (n = 498) with high spatial resolution to examine relationships between the functional connectivity of specific hypothalamic nuclei and a dimensional marker of prolonged stress. First, we demonstrate that we can parcellate the human hypothalamus into seven nuclei in vivo. Using the functional connectivity between these nuclei and other subcortical structures including the amygdala, we significantly predict stress scores out-of-sample. Predictions use 0.0015% of all possible brain edges, are specific to stress, and improve when using nucleus-specific compared to whole-hypothalamus connectivity. Thus, stress relates to connectivity changes in precise and functionally meaningful subcortical networks, which may be exploited in future studies using interventions in stress disorders.