A structural MRI study of cortical thickness in depersonalisation disorder

Psychiatry Res. 2014 Oct 30;224(1):1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2014.06.007. Epub 2014 Jul 9.


Depersonalisation disorder (DPD) is characterised by a sense of unreality about the self and the world. Research suggests altered autonomic responsivity and dysfunction in prefrontal and temporal lobe areas in this condition. We report the first structural magnetic resonance imaging study of 20 patients with DPD and 21 controls using the FreeSurfer analysis tool employing both region-of-interest and vertex-based methods. DPD patients showed significantly lower cortical thickness in the right middle temporal region according to both methods of analysis. The vertex-based method revealed additional differences in bilateral temporal lobes, inferior frontal regions, the right posterior cingulate, and increased thickness in the right gyrus rectus and left precuneus. Clinical severity scores were negatively correlated with cortical thickness in middle and right inferior frontal regions. In sum, grey matter changes in the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes are associated with DPD. Further research is required to specify the functional significance of the findings and whether they are vulnerability or disease markers.

Keywords: Depersonalisation disorder; FreeSurfer; Inferior frontal lobe; Middle temporal lobe; Structural imaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Depersonalization / pathology*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / pathology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parietal Lobe / pathology
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology