Neural response during emotion regulation in monozygotic twins at high familial risk of affective disorders

Neuroimage Clin. 2019;21:101598. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2018.11.008. Epub 2018 Nov 13.


Purpose: We investigated the neural correlates of emotion regulation and -reactivity in adult unaffected monozygotic twins with a co-twin history of unipolar or bipolar disorder (high-risk), remitted or partially remitted twins with a personal history of unipolar or bipolar disorder (affected) and twins with no personal or first-degree family history of unipolar or bipolar disorder (low-risk).

Methods: We assessed 37 high-risk, 56 affected and 28 low-risk participants. Participants viewed unpleasant and neutral pictures during functional magnetic resonance imaging and were instructed to down-regulate their emotional response through reappraisal or mental imagery, as well as to maintain the elicited emotion.

Results: After adjusting for subsyndromal depressive symptoms, bilateral supplementary motor areas, posterior dorsal anterior cingulate cortices and the left frontal eye field showed less activity during reappraisal of unpleasant pictures in high-risk than low-risk participants. Notably, affected participants did not differ from high-risk or low-risk participants in neural response during reappraisal. There were no group differences in ventrolateral prefrontal cortex seed based functional connectivity during reappraisal or neural response during mental imagery or emotional reactivity.

Conclusion: Lesser response in dorsal midline areas might reflect familial risk related abnormalities during down regulation of emotional reactivity through reappraisal.

Keywords: Cognitive neuroscience; Endophenotypes; Magnetic resonance imaging; Monozygotic twins; Mood disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology
  • Bipolar Disorder / physiopathology
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders / genetics
  • Mood Disorders / physiopathology
  • Twins, Monozygotic / genetics*
  • Young Adult