News | Neuro Imaging | January 18, 2016

Rage Disorder Linked with Smaller Brain Volume in Emotional Areas

Neuroimaging study finds reduced grey matter volume in individuals with intermittent explosive disorder

IED, intermittent explosive disorder, brain volume, University of Chicago study, fMRI

January 18, 2016 — People who have a behavioral disorder characterized by extreme outbursts of anger — such as road rage — have significantly lower gray matter volume in the brain region that plays an important role in regulating emotion, report scientists from the University of Chicago.

The study, published in the January issue of Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, provides striking evidence of differences in the brains of impulsively aggressive individuals with intermittent explosive disorder (IED).

“Our data confirm that IED, is a brain disorder and not a disorder of ‘personality,’” said senior study author Emil Coccaro, MD, Ellen.C. Manning Professor and Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Chicago. “The behaviors displayed by IED patients represent the expected consequence of altered brain structure and function underlying impulsive aggression in humans.”

IED is defined by the DSM-5 as recurrent, impulsive, problematic outbursts of aggression, disproportionate to the situation—extreme road rage, for example. It is thought to be more common than bipolar disorder and schizophrenia combined.

To study brain changes involved in IED, Coccaro and his colleagues performed high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans in 168 people, including 57 who were diagnosed with IED, 53 healthy control subjects and another 58 control patients with psychiatric diagnoses.

The team discovered a direct correlation between history of impulsive aggressive behavior and gray matter volume in the frontolimbic region of the brain—an area known to play a central role in the regulation of emotions. Across all subjects, reduced gray matter volume directly correlated with increases in aggressive behavior. The inverse relationship was also observed.

“There is clear evidence of brain alterations in impulsively aggressive individuals, which are not due to other factors,” Coccaro said. “IED is not simply ‘bad behavior’ that requires an attitude adjustment.”

The causes of the differences in gray matter volume are unknown, but IED runs in families and is thought to have a significant genetic component. Developmental processes and environmental influences may also play a role, and further studies are needed to investigate.

“More work needs to be done before we can use these brain scans to make diagnoses,” Coccaro said. “However, this work does inform us on what brain targets might be available for the development of novel treatments of impulsive aggression and IED.”

The study, “Frontolimbic Morphometric Abnormalities in Intermittent Explosive Disorder and Aggression,” was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health. Additional authors include Daniel A. Fitzgerald, Royce Lee, Michael McCloskey and K. Luan Phan.

Related Content

Siemens Healthineers to Showcase Magentom Vida MRI at RSNA 2017
Technology | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | September 18, 2017
September 18, 2017 — Siemens Healthineers announced it will display the new Magnetom Vida 3T...
Theraclion to Launch Metastatic Breast Cancer Trial Combining Echotherapy and Immunotherapy
News | Focused Ultrasound Therapy | September 18, 2017
September 18, 2017 — Theraclion and co-lead investigator David Brenin, M.D., from the University of Virginia School o
Blue Earth Diagnostics Announcing Results of FALCON PET/CT Trial at ASTRO 2017
News | PET-CT | September 13, 2017
September 13, 2017 — Blue Earth Diagnostics announced the upcoming oral presentation of initial results from the FALC
FDA Committee Votes to Expand Warning Labels on Gadolinium-Based Contrast Agents
News | Contrast Media | September 12, 2017
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Medical Imaging Drugs Advisory Committee (MIDAC) voted overwhelmingly...
News | Imaging | September 11, 2017
September 11, 2017 — Innovatus Imaging Corp., a newly created holding company formed by private equity firm Resilienc
Delphinus Enrolls First Patient in Discover Breast Ultrasound Clinical Project
News | Ultrasound Womens Healthcare | September 08, 2017
September 8, 2017 — Delphinus Medical Technologies Inc.
Sponsored Content | Videos | Radiation Therapy | September 08, 2017
The new Visicoil MR is a helically-wound, flexible linear fiducial marker.
FDG-PET/CT Predicts Melanoma Patients' Response to Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor Therapy
News | PET-CT | September 07, 2017
September 7, 2017 — Advanced melanoma has a poor prognosis, but immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy can be effective
Musculoskeletal Extremity Imaging in Medicare Beneficiaries Increased Over Two Decades
News | Orthopedic Imaging | September 06, 2017
A new study by the Harvey L. Neiman Health Policy Institute found that in the Medicare population, the utilization...
Overlay Init