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      Abnormal fronto-limbic engagement in incarcerated stimulant users during moral processing

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          Abstract

          <div class="section"> <a class="named-anchor" id="S1"> <!-- named anchor --> </a> <h5 class="section-title" id="d6350120e207">Rationale</h5> <p id="P1">Stimulant use is a significant and prevalent problem, particularly in criminal populations. Previous studies found that cocaine and methamphetamine use is related to impairment in identifying emotions and empathy. Stimulant users also have abnormal neural structure and function of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), amygdala, anterior (ACC) and posterior cingulate (PCC), regions implicated in moral decision making. However, no research has studied the neural correlates of stimulant use and explicit moral processing in an incarcerated population. </p> </div><div class="section"> <a class="named-anchor" id="S2"> <!-- named anchor --> </a> <h5 class="section-title" id="d6350120e212">Objectives</h5> <p id="P2">Here we examine how stimulant use affects sociomoral processing that might contribute to antisocial behavior. We predicted that vmPFC, amygdala, PCC, and ACC would show abnormal neural response during a moral processing task in incarcerated methamphetamine and cocaine users. </p> </div><div class="section"> <a class="named-anchor" id="S3"> <!-- named anchor --> </a> <h5 class="section-title" id="d6350120e217">Methods</h5> <p id="P3">Incarcerated adult males ( <i>N</i> = 211) were scanned with a Mobile MRI system while completing a moral decision making task. Lifetime drug use was assessed. Neural responses during moral processing were compared between users and non-users. The relationship between duration of use and neural function was also examined. </p> </div><div class="section"> <a class="named-anchor" id="S4"> <!-- named anchor --> </a> <h5 class="section-title" id="d6350120e225">Results</h5> <p id="P4">Incarcerated stimulant users showed less amygdala engagement than non-users during moral processing. Duration of stimulant use was negatively associated with activity in ACC and positively associated with vmPFC response during moral processing. </p> </div><div class="section"> <a class="named-anchor" id="S5"> <!-- named anchor --> </a> <h5 class="section-title" id="d6350120e230">Conclusions</h5> <p id="P5">These results suggest a dynamic pattern of fronto-limbic moral processing related to stimulant use with deficits in both central motive and cognitive integration elements of biological moral processes theory. This increases our understanding of how drug use relates to moral processing in the brain in an ultra-high risk population. </p> </div>

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          Most cited references 69

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          The somatic marker hypothesis: A neural theory of economic decision

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            Amygdala-frontal connectivity during emotion regulation.

            Successful control of affect partly depends on the capacity to modulate negative emotional responses through the use of cognitive strategies (i.e., reappraisal). Recent studies suggest the involvement of frontal cortical regions in the modulation of amygdala reactivity and the mediation of effective emotion regulation. However, within-subject inter-regional connectivity between amygdala and prefrontal cortex in the context of affect regulation is unknown. Here, using psychophysiological interaction analyses of functional magnetic resonance imaging data, we show that activity in specific areas of the frontal cortex (dorsolateral, dorsal medial, anterior cingulate, orbital) covaries with amygdala activity and that this functional connectivity is dependent on the reappraisal task. Moreover, strength of amygdala coupling with orbitofrontal cortex and dorsal medial prefrontal cortex predicts the extent of attenuation of negative affect following reappraisal. These findings highlight the importance of functional connectivity within limbic-frontal circuitry during emotion regulation.
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              Amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex are inversely coupled during regulation of negative affect and predict the diurnal pattern of cortisol secretion among older adults.

              Among younger adults, the ability to willfully regulate negative affect, enabling effective responses to stressful experiences, engages regions of prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the amygdala. Because regions of PFC and the amygdala are known to influence the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, here we test whether PFC and amygdala responses during emotion regulation predict the diurnal pattern of salivary cortisol secretion. We also test whether PFC and amygdala regions are engaged during emotion regulation in older (62- to 64-year-old) rather than younger individuals. We measured brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging as participants regulated (increased or decreased) their affective responses or attended to negative picture stimuli. We also collected saliva samples for 1 week at home for cortisol assay. Consistent with previous work in younger samples, increasing negative affect resulted in ventral lateral, dorsolateral, and dorsomedial regions of PFC and amygdala activation. In contrast to previous work, decreasing negative affect did not produce the predicted robust pattern of higher PFC and lower amygdala activation. Individuals demonstrating the predicted effect (decrease < attend in the amygdala), however, exhibited higher signal in ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) for the same contrast. Furthermore, participants displaying higher VMPFC and lower amygdala signal when decreasing compared with the attention control condition evidenced steeper, more normative declines in cortisol over the course of the day. Individual differences yielded the predicted link between brain function while reducing negative affect in the laboratory and diurnal regulation of endocrine activity in the home environment.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Psychopharmacology
                Psychopharmacology
                Springer Nature
                0033-3158
                1432-2072
                September 2016
                July 12 2016
                : 233
                : 17
                : 3077-3087
                Article
                10.1007/s00213-016-4344-4
                4982833
                27401337
                © 2016

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