Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Scientists Pinpoint Site in Brain for Rare Personality Disorder

long distance connections miswired
National Institute of Mental Health scientists have pinpointed the site in the brain of a rare genetic disorder that makes those who have it both too friendly and too anxious. Williams syndrome is caused by a deletion of genes that are important for migration and maturation neurons in the brain. Combining genetics, brain scans, and personality rating scales tied abnormalities in brain structure to overt symptoms, wrote Karen Berman, M.D., and colleagues in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online March 12.

Magnetic resonance imaging revealed that patients had less gray matter in the bottom front of the insula, an area that integrates mood and thinking. However, they also had increased gray matter in the top front part of the insula, a region linked to social/emotional processes. Other imaging systems tracked abnormal activity patterns in the brain. “[T]hese genetically determined alterations of anterior insula structure and function predicted the degree to which the atypical Williams syndrome personality profile was expressed in participants with the syndrome,” concluded Berman.

To read more about neuroimaging and anxiety disorders in the American Journal of Psychiatry, click here.
(Image: National Institute of Mental Health)


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