Acute psychosocial stress alters thalamic network centrality.

Author: Janis R1, Marie U2, Karsten M3, Lauckner ME4, Deniz K5, Lina SH2, Baczkowski BM6, Anahit B3, Miray E7, Josefin R3, Andrea R8, Ju BY9, Juergen K9, Joachim T9, Talma H10, Arno V5, Michael G5
Author Information:
1Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany. Electronic address: reinelt@cbs.mpg.de.
2Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany; International Max Planck Research School NeuroCom, Leipzig, Germany.
3Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany.
4Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany; Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
5Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany; MindBrainBody Institute at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
6Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany; International Max Planck Research School NeuroCom, Leipzig, Germany; Institute of Psychology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.
7Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany; MindBrainBody Institute at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany; International Max Planck School on the Life Course, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany.
8Department of Neurology, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany; Lifespan Developmental Neuroscience, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany; Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, London, United Kingdom.
9Institute for Laboratory Medicine, Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics (ILM) of the Medical Faculty at the University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.
10School of Psychological Science, Departments of Physiology and Pharmacology and Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, Sagol School Neuroscience, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.
Conference/Journal: Neuroimage.
Date published: 2019 Jun 4
Other: Pages: S1053-8119(19)30490-2 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.06.005. [Epub ahead of print] , Word Count: 269


Acute stress triggers a broad psychophysiological response that is adaptive if rapidly activated and terminated. While the brain controls the stress response, it is strongly affected by it. Previous research of stress effects on brain activation and connectivity has mainly focused on pre-defined brain regions or networks, potentially missing changes in the rest of the brain. We here investigated how both stress reactivity and stress recovery are reflected in whole-brain network topology and how changes in functional connectivity relate to other stress measures. Healthy young males (n = 67) completed the Trier Social Stress Test or a control task. From 60 min before until 105 min after stress onset, blocks of resting-state fMRI were acquired. Subjective, autonomic, and endocrine measures of the stress response were assessed throughout the experiment. Whole-brain network topology was quantified using Eigenvector centrality (EC) mapping, which detects central hubs of a network. Stress influenced subjective affect, autonomic activity, and endocrine measures. EC differences between groups as well as before and after stress exposure were found in the thalamus, due to widespread connectivity changes in the brain. Stress-driven EC increases in the thalamus were significantly correlated with subjective stress ratings and showed non-significant trends for a correlation with heart rate variability and saliva cortisol. Furthermore, increases in thalamic EC and in saliva cortisol persisted until 105 min after stress onset. We conclude that thalamic areas are central for information processing after stress exposure and may provide an interface for the stress response in the rest of the body and in the mind.

Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier Inc.

KEYWORDS: Cortisol; Eigenvector centrality mapping; Resting-state fMRI; Stress; TSST; Thalamus

PMID: 31173902 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.06.005

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