News | Neuro Imaging | July 19, 2016

MRI Reveals Decreased Brain Connectivity in People with Anger Disorder

Less integrity and density in the “information superhighway” of the brain can lead to impaired social cognition

intermittent explosive disorder, IED, MRI, diffusion tensor imaging, University of Chicago study

Regions of the white matter skeleton in which connectivity in IED subjects was significantly lower than healthy controls. Image courtesy of Lee, et al, Neuropsychopharmacology

July 19, 2016 — People with intermittent explosive disorder (IED), or impulsive aggression, have a weakened connection between regions of the brain associated with sensory input, language processing and social interaction.

In a new study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, neuroscientists from the University of Chicago show that white matter in a region of the brain called the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) has less integrity and density in people with IED than in healthy individuals and those with other psychiatric disorders. The SLF connects the brain’s frontal lobe — responsible for decision-making, emotion and understanding consequences of actions — with the parietal lobe, which processes language and sensory input.

“It’s like an information superhighway connecting the frontal cortex to the parietal lobes,” said Royce Lee, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Chicago and lead author of the study. “We think that points to social cognition as an important area to think about for people with anger problems.”

Lee and his colleagues — including senior author Emil Coccaro, M.D., Ellen C. Manning Professor and Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at UChicago — used diffusion tensor imaging, a form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that measures the volume and density of white matter connective tissue in the brain. Connectivity is a critical issue because the brains of people with psychiatric disorders usually show very few physical differences from healthy individuals.

“It’s not so much how the brain is structured, but the way these regions are connected to each other,” Lee said. “That might be where we're going to see a lot of the problems in psychiatric disorders, so white matter is a natural place to start since that's the brain's natural wiring from one region to another.”

People with anger issues tend to misunderstand the intentions of other people in social situations. They think others are being hostile when they are not and make the wrong conclusions about their intentions. They also don’t take in all the data from a social interaction, such as body language or certain words, and notice only those things that reinforce their belief that the other person is challenging them.

Decreased connectivity between regions of the brain that process a social situation could lead to the impaired judgment that escalates to an explosive outburst of anger. The discovery of connectivity deficits in a specific region of the brain like the SLF provides an important starting point for more research on people with IED, as well as those with borderline personality disorder, who share similar social and emotional problems and appear to have the same abnormality in the SLF.

“This is another example of tangible deficits in the brains of those with IED that indicate that impulsive aggressive behavior is not simply ‘bad behavior’ but behavior with a real biological basis that can be studied and treated,” Coccaro said.

The study, “White Matter Integrity Reductions in Intermittent Explosive Disorder,” was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health. Additional authors include Jennifer Fanning and Sarah Keedy from the University of Chicago, and Konstantinos Arfanakis and Arnold Evia from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

For more information: www.nature.com/npp

Related Content

New Data Demonstrates Safety Profile of GammaTile Therapy for Various Brain Tumors
News | Brachytherapy Systems | June 18, 2019
GT Medical Technologies Inc. announced the presentation of clinical data from a prospective study of GammaTile Therapy...
Black Men Less Likely to Adopt Active Surveillance for Low-Risk Prostate Cancer
News | Prostate Cancer | June 17, 2019
A new study reveals black men are less likely than white men to adopt an active surveillance strategy for their...
International Working Group Releases New Multiple Myeloma Imaging Guidelines

X-ray images such as the one on the left fail to indicate many cases of advanced bone destruction caused by multiple myeloma, says the author of new guidelines on imaging for patients with myeloma and related disorders. Image courtesy of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

News | Computed Tomography (CT) | June 17, 2019
An International Myeloma Working Group (IMWG) has developed the first set of new recommendations in 10 years for...
SyMRI Software Receives FDA Clearance for Use With Siemens MRI Systems
Technology | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | June 14, 2019
SyntheticMR announced U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance for clinical use of its SyMRI Image and SyMRI...
A high-fidelity 3-D tractography of the left ventricle heart muscle fibers of a mouse

Figure 1. A high-fidelity 3-D tractography of the left ventricle heart muscle fibers of a mouse from Amsterdam Ph.D. researcher Gustav Strijkers.

News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | June 07, 2019
The Amsterdam University Medical Center has won MR Solutions’ Image of the Year 2019 award for the best molecular...
Study Identifies MRI-Guided Radiation Therapy as Growing Market Segment
News | Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) | June 06, 2019
Revenues from the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-guided radiation therapy systems market exceeded $220 million in...
Ann Arbor Startup Launches Augmented Reality MRI Simulator
Technology | Virtual and Augmented Reality | June 04, 2019
SpellBound, an Ann Arbor startup specializing in augmented reality (AR) tools for children in hospitals, has officially...
AI Biomarker Demonstrates High Predictive Power for Lung Cancer Immunotherapy
News | Artificial Intelligence | May 31, 2019
Lunit announced an abstract presentation of its artificial intelligence (AI) precision medicine research portfolio at...

Photo courtesy of Philips Healthcare

Feature | Radiology Business | May 31, 2019 | By Arjen Radder
Change is a consistent theme in our world today, no matter where you look.
Dynamic Digital Radiography Used to Assess Undifferentiated Dyspnea
News | Digital Radiography (DR) | May 29, 2019
A clinical study presented at the American Thoracic Society (ATS) 2019 annual meeting, May 17-22 in Dallas, described...