Publications by authors named "Nadja Vennewald"

4 Publications

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Neurobiological and clinical effects of fNIRS-controlled rTMS in patients with panic disorder/agoraphobia during cognitive-behavioural therapy.

Neuroimage Clin 2017 22;16:668-677. Epub 2017 Sep 22.

Mood and Anxiety Disorders Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Albert-Schweitzer-Campus 1, University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany.

Background: A relevant proportion of patients with panic disorder (PD) does not improve even though they receive state of the art treatment for anxiety disorders such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). At the same time, it is known, that from a neurobiological point of view, PD patients are often characterised by prefrontal hypoactivation. Intermittent Theta Burst Stimulation (iTBS) is a non-invasive type of neurostimulation which can modulate cortical activity and thus has the potential to normalise prefrontal hypoactivity found in PD. We therefore aimed at investigating the effects of iTBS as an innovative add-on to CBT in the treatment for PD.

Methods: In this double-blind, bicentric study, 44 PD patients, randomised to sham or verum stimulation, received 15 sessions of iTBS over the left prefrontal cortex (PFC) in addition to 9 weeks of group CBT. Cortical activity during a cognitive as well as an emotional (Emotional Stroop) paradigm was assessed both at baseline and post-iTBS treatment using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and compared to healthy controls.

Results: In this manuscript we only report the results of the emotional paradigm; for the results of the cognitive paradigm please refer to Deppermann et al. (2014). During the Emotional Stroop test, PD patients showed significantly reduced activation to panic-related compared to neutral stimuli for the left PFC at baseline. Bilateral prefrontal activation for panic-related stimuli significantly increased after verum iTBS only. Clinical ratings significantly improved during CBT and remained stable at follow-up. However, no clinical differences between the verum- and sham-stimulated group were identified, except for a more stable reduction of agoraphobic avoidance during follow-up in the verum iTBS group.

Limitations: Limitations include insufficient blinding, the missing control for possible state-dependent iTBS effects, and the timing of iTBS application during CBT.

Conclusion: Prefrontal hypoactivity in PD patients was normalised by add-on iTBS. Clinical improvement of anxiety symptoms was not affected by iTBS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2017.09.013DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5650598PMC
June 2018

Emotional processing and rTMS: does inhibitory theta burst stimulation affect the human startle reflex?

J Neural Transm (Vienna) 2016 10 13;123(10):1121-31. Epub 2016 May 13.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Muenster, Albert-Schweitzer-Campus 1, Gebaeude A9, 48149, Muenster, Germany.

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) enables the local and non-invasive modulation of cortical activity and has proved to achieve antidepressant effects. To a lesser extent, rTMS is investigated as a treatment option for anxiety disorders. As the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala represent key components of human emotion regulation, we investigated how prefrontally applied rTMS affects the responsiveness of the subcortical amygdala during a fear-relevant study paradigm to examine potential cortico-limbic effects. Sham-controlled, randomised inhibitory rTMS (continuous theta burst stimulation, TBS) was applied to 102 healthy subjects (female = 54) over the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Subsequently, the emotion-potentiated (unpleasant, neutral, and pleasant International Affective Picture System pictures) acoustic startle response was investigated. Subjective anxiety ratings (anxiety sensitivity, trait and state anxiety) were considered. Picture category affected the startle magnitude as expected for both TBS intervention groups (highest startle response for unpleasant, lowest for pleasant pictures). However, no modulatory effects of TBS on startle potentiation were discerned. No significant interaction effects of TBS intervention, subjective anxiety ratings, and gender were identified. Interestingly, startle habituation was influenced by TBS intervention on a trend-level, with verum TBS leading to an accelerated habituation. We found no evidence for the hypothesis that prefrontal inhibitory TBS affects the responsiveness of the amygdala during the presentation of emotionally relevant stimuli in healthy subjects. Instead, we found accelerated habituation under verum TBS on a statistical trend-level. Hence, some preliminary hints for modulatory effects of inhibitory TBS on basic learning mechanisms could be found.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00702-016-1568-8DOI Listing
October 2016

Neuropeptide S receptor gene variation modulates anterior cingulate cortex Glx levels during CCK-4 induced panic.

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 2015 Oct 20;25(10):1677-82. Epub 2015 Jul 20.

Mood and Anxiety Disorders Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Muenster, Germany; kbo-Inn-Salzach-Klinikum, Wasserburg am Inn, Germany; Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Munich, Germany. Electronic address:

An excitatory-inhibitory neurotransmitter dysbalance has been suggested in pathogenesis of panic disorder. The neuropeptide S (NPS) system has been implicated in modulating GABA and glutamate neurotransmission in animal models and to genetically drive altered fear circuit function and an increased risk of panic disorder in humans. Probing a multi-level imaging genetic risk model of panic, in the present magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) study brain glutamate+glutamine (Glx) levels in the bilateral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) during a pharmacological cholecystokinin tetrapeptide (CCK-4) panic challenge were assessed depending on the functional neuropeptide S receptor gene (NPSR1) rs324981 A/T variant in a final sample of 35 healthy male subjects. The subjective panic response (Panic Symptom Scale; PSS) as well as cortisol and ACTH levels were ascertained throughout the experiment. CCK-4 injection was followed by a strong panic response. A significant time×genotype interaction was detected (p=.008), with significantly lower ACC Glx/Cr levels in T allele carriers as compared to AA homozygotes 5min after injection (p=.003). CCK-4 induced significant HPA axis stimulation, but no effect of genotype was discerned. The present pilot data suggests NPSR1 gene variation to modulate Glx levels in the ACC during acute states of stress and anxiety, with blunted, i.e. possibly maladaptive ACC glutamatergic reactivity in T risk allele carriers. Our results underline the notion of a genetically driven rapid and dynamic response mechanism in the neural regulation of human anxiety and further strengthen the emerging role of the NPS system in anxiety.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.euroneuro.2015.07.011DOI Listing
October 2015

Does rTMS alter neurocognitive functioning in patients with panic disorder/agoraphobia? An fNIRS-based investigation of prefrontal activation during a cognitive task and its modulation via sham-controlled rTMS.

Biomed Res Int 2014 18;2014:542526. Epub 2014 Mar 18.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Tuebingen, Calwerstr 14, 72076 Tuebingen, Germany ; Graduate School LEAD, University of Tuebingen, Europastr. 6, 72072 Tuebingen, Germany ; Cluster of Excellence CIN, University of Tuebingen, Otfried-Mueller-Str. 25, 72076 Tuebingen, Germany.

Objectives: Neurobiologically, panic disorder (PD) is supposed to be characterised by cerebral hypofrontality. Via functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), we investigated whether prefrontal hypoactivity during cognitive tasks in PD-patients compared to healthy controls (HC) could be replicated. As intermittent theta burst stimulation (iTBS) modulates cortical activity, we furthermore investigated its ability to normalise prefrontal activation.

Methods: Forty-four PD-patients, randomised to sham or verum group, received 15 iTBS-sessions above the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) in addition to psychoeducation. Before first and after last iTBS-treatment, cortical activity during a verbal fluency task was assessed via fNIRS and compared to the results of 23 HC.

Results: At baseline, PD-patients showed hypofrontality including the DLPFC, which differed significantly from activation patterns of HC. However, verum iTBS did not augment prefrontal fNIRS activation. Solely after sham iTBS, a significant increase of measured fNIRS activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) during the phonological task was found.

Conclusion: Our results support findings that PD is characterised by prefrontal hypoactivation during cognitive performance. However, verum iTBS as an "add-on" to psychoeducation did not augment prefrontal activity. Instead we only found increased fNIRS activation in the left IFG after sham iTBS application. Possible reasons including task-related psychophysiological arousal are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/542526DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3976939PMC
December 2014