Eur J Neurosci 2016 Apr 15;43(7):971-8. Epub 2016 Feb 15.
Department of Neuroimaging, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, De Crespigny Park, London, UK.
Previous studies have yielded evidence for cognitive processing abnormalities and alterations of autonomic functioning in depersonalization-derealization disorder (DPRD). However, multimodal neuroimaging and psychophysiology studies have not yet been conducted to test for functional and effective connectivity under cognitive stress in patients with DPRD. DPRD and non-referred control subjects underwent a combined Stroop/negative priming task, and the neural correlates of Stroop interference effect, negative priming effect, error rates, cognitive load span and average amplitude of skin conductance responses were ascertained for both groups. Evoked haemodynamic responses for basic Stroop/negative priming activations were compared. For basic Stroop to neutral contrast, patients with DPRD differed in the location (inferior vs. superior lobule) of the parietal region involved, but showed similar activations in the left frontal region. In addition, patients with DPRD also co-activated the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (BA9) and posterior cingulate cortex (BA31), which were also found to be the main between-group difference regions. These regions furthermore showed connectivity with frequency of depersonalization states. Evoked haemodynamic responses drawn from regions of interest indicated significant between-group differences in 30-40% of time points. Brain-behaviour correlations differed mainly in laterality, yet only slightly in regions. A reversal of autonomic patterning became evident in patients with DPRD for cognitive load spans, indicating less effective arousal suppression under cognitive stress - patients with DPRD showed positive associations of cognitive load with autonomic responses, whereas controls exhibit respective inverse association. Overall, the results of the present study show only minor executive cognitive peculiarities, but further support the notion of abnormalities in autonomic functioning in patients with DPRD.