Time-dependent effects of corticosteroids on human amygdala processing.
SourceThe Journal of Neuroscience, 30, 38, (2010), pp. 12725-32
Article / Letter to editor
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Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging
F.C. Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging
The Journal of Neuroscience
Subject130 000 Cognitive Neurology & Memory; 130 028 Probing the mechanistic underpinnings of stress-related memories; DCN 2: Functional Neurogenomics; DCN 3: Neuroinformatics
Acute stress is associated with a sensitized amygdala. Corticosteroids, released in response to stress, are suggested to restore homeostasis by normalizing/desensitizing brain processing in the aftermath of stress. Here, we investigated the effects of corticosteroids on amygdala processing using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Since corticosteroids exert rapid nongenomic and slow genomic effects, we administered hydrocortisone either 75 min (rapid effects) or 285 min (slow effects) before scanning in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled design. Seventy-two healthy males were scanned while viewing faces morphing from a neutral facial expression into fearful or happy expressions. Imaging results revealed that hydrocortisone desensitizes amygdala responsivity rapidly, while it selectively normalizes responses to negative stimuli slowly. Psychophysiological interaction analyses suggested that this slow normalization is related to an altered coupling of the amygdala with the medial prefrontal cortex. These results reveal a temporarily fine-tuned mechanism that is critical for avoiding amygdala overshoot during stress and enabling adequate recovery thereafter.
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