Structural and functional brain alterations in psychiatric patients with dissociative experiences: A systematic review of magnetic resonance imaging studies

Shahab Lotfinia, Zohre Soorgi, Yoki Mertens, Judith Daniels*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Introduction There is currently no general agreement on how to best conceptualize dissociative symptoms and whether they share similar neural underpinnings across dissociative disorders. Neuroimaging data could help elucidate these questions. Objectives The objective of this review is to summarize empirical evidence for neural aberrations observed in patients suffering from dissociative symptoms. Methods A systematic literature review was conducted including patient cohorts diagnosed with primary dissociative disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or borderline personality disorder. Results Results from MRI studies reporting structural (gray matter and white matter) and functional (during resting-state and task-related activation) brain aberrations were extracted and integrated. In total, 33 articles were included of which 10 pertained to voxel-based morphology, 2 to diffusion tensor imaging, 10 to resting-state fMRI, and 11 to task-related fMRI. Overall findings indicated aberrations spread across diverse brain regions, especially in the temporal and frontal cortices. Patients with dissociative identity disorder and with dissociative PTSD showed more overlap in brain activation than each group showed with depersonalization/derealization disorder. Conclusion In conjunction, the results indicate that dissociative processing cannot be localized to a few distinctive brain regions but rather corresponds to differential neural signatures depending on the symptom constellation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-15
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Volume128
Early online date13-May-2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep-2020

Keywords

  • Dissociation
  • Neuroimaging
  • MRI
  • Depersonalization
  • Derealization
  • POSTTRAUMATIC-STRESS-DISORDER
  • BORDERLINE PERSONALITY-DISORDER
  • DEFAULT MODE NETWORK
  • DEPERSONALIZATION DISORDER
  • IDENTITY DISORDER
  • POSTERIOR CINGULATE
  • EMOTION REGULATION
  • CHILDHOOD ABUSE;
  • CONNECTIVITY
  • FMRI

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