Publications by authors named "Thomas Zussner"

3 Publications

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A two-week running intervention reduces symptoms related to depression and increases hippocampal volume in young adults.

Cortex 2021 Nov 24;144:70-81. Epub 2021 Sep 24.

Institute of Psychology, University of Graz, Austria.

This study examined the effects of a two-week running intervention on depressive symptoms and structural changes of different subfields of the hippocampus in young adults from the general population. The intervention was realized in small groups of participants in a mostly forested area and was organized into seven units of about 60 min each. The study design included two intervention groups which were tested at three time points and which received the intervention time-delayed: The first group between the first and the second time point, and the second group between the second and the third time point (waiting control group). At each test session, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed and symptoms related to depression were measured by means of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression (CES-D) Scale. Results revealed a significant reduction of CES-D scores after the running intervention. The intervention also resulted in significant increases in the volume of the hippocampus, and reductions of CES-D scores right after the intervention were associated with increases in hippocampal volume. These findings add important new evidence on the beneficial role of aerobic exercise on depressive symptoms and related structural alterations of the hippocampus.
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November 2021

Enjoyment of watching pimple popping videos: An fMRI investigation.

Behav Brain Res 2021 03 7;402:113129. Epub 2021 Jan 7.

Institute of Psychology, University of Graz, BioTechMedGraz, Universitätsplatz 2, 8010, Graz, Austria. Electronic address:

Background: Millions of people enjoy watching videos of pimple treatments. The underlying neural mechanisms of this enjoyment have not been investigated so far.

Method: We administered a total of 96 video clips from three categories: Pimple Popping (PP), Water Fountains (WF), and Steam Cleaning (SC). The PP videos showed a pimple or blackhead that was opened to squeeze out the pus or sebum. The female participants (mean age: 24 years) were assigned to one of two groups: females who reported to enjoy watching PP (PPE_high; n = 38) and those with little enjoyment (PPE_low; n = 42). We analyzed brain activity in regions of interest (ROI) involved in the encoding of pleasure and aversion (e.g., nucleus accumbens (NAc), insula).

Results: The PPE_high group showed less deactivation of the NAc (ROI finding), more frontopolar activation (whole-brain finding), and stronger accumbens-insula coupling than the PPE_low group.

Conclusions: A specific pattern of brain activity and connectivity that involves the NAc and insula (coding of aversion/pleasure) and the frontopolar region (prediction of outcomes of motor decisions) is associated with the enjoyment of PP videos.
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March 2021

Altered cerebellar-amygdala connectivity in violent offenders: A resting-state fMRI study.

Neurosci Lett 2016 Jan 30;610:160-4. Epub 2015 Oct 30.

Clinical Psychology, University of Graz, BioTechMedGraz, Universitätsplatz 2/DG, 8010 Graz, Austria.

It has repeatedly been reported, that there are differences in grey matter volume (GMV) between violent offenders and non-violent controls. However, it remains unclear, if structural brain abnormalities influence resting-state functional connectivity (RS-fc) between brain regions. Therefore, in the present investigation, 31 male high-risk violent prisoners were compared to 30 non-criminal controls with respect to RS-fc between brain areas. Seed regions for resting-state analysis were selected based on GMV differences between the two groups. Overall, inmates had more GMV in the cerebellum than controls and revealed higher RS-fc between the cerebellum and the amygdala. In contrast, controls relative to prisoners showed higher RS-fc between the cerebellum and the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). In addition, controls showed more GMV in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Inmates relative to controls had higher RS-fc within the DLPFC. Results are discussed with respect to cerebellar contributions to a brain network underlying moral behavior and violence. Enhanced cerebellar-amygdala connectivity in violent offenders might reflect alterations in the processing of moral emotions. Heightened functional connectivity between cerebellar hemispheres and the OFC in controls could be a correlate of enhanced emotion regulation capacities. Higher functional intra-DLPFC connectivity in violent offenders might represent an effort to regulate emotions.
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January 2016