Changes in functioning of mesolimbic incentive processing circuits during the premenstrual phase
SourceSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 6, 5, (2011), pp. 612-20
Article / Letter to editor
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Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging
PI Group Memory & Emotion
F.C. Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
SubjectDCN 2: Functional Neurogenomics
The premenstrual phase of the menstrual cycle is associated with marked changes in normal and abnormal motivated behaviors. Animal studies suggest that such effects may result from actions of gonadal hormones on the mesolimbic dopamine (DA) system. We therefore investigated premenstrual changes in reward-related neural activity in terminal regions of the DA system in humans. Twenty-eight healthy young women underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging on 2 days during the menstrual cycle, once during the late follicular phase and once during the premenstrual phase, in counterbalanced order. Using a modified version of the monetary incentive delay task, we assessed responsiveness of the ventral striatum to reward anticipation. Our results show enhanced ventral striatal responses during the premenstrual as compared to the follicular phase. Moreover, this effect was most pronounced in women reporting more premenstrual symptoms. These findings provide support for the notion that changes in functioning of mesolimbic incentive processing circuits may underlie premenstrual changes in motivated behaviors. Notably, increases in reward-cue responsiveness have previously been associated with DA withdrawal states. Our findings therefore suggest that the sharp decline of gonadal hormone levels in the premenstrual phase may trigger a similar withdrawal-like state.
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