Center for Mental Healthcare

Groningen, Netherlands

Center for Mental Healthcare

Groningen, Netherlands
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Liemburg E.J.,University of Groningen | Swart M.,University of Groningen | Swart M.,Center for Mental Healthcare | Bruggeman R.,University of Groningen | And 6 more authors.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience | Year: 2012

Alexithymia is a trait characterized by a diminished capacity to describe and distinguish emotions and to fantasize; it is associated with reduced introspection and problems in emotion processing. The default mode network (DMN) is a network of brain areas that is normally active during rest and involved in emotion processing and self-referential mental activity, including introspection. We hypothesized that connectivity of the DMN might be altered in alexithymia. Twenty alexithymic and 18 non-alexithymic healthy volunteers underwent a resting state fMRI scan. Independent component analysis was used to identify the DMN. Differences in connectivity strength were compared between groups. Within the DMN, alexithymic participants showed lower connectivity within areas of the DMN (medial frontal and temporal areas) as compared to non-alexithymic participants. In contrast, connectivity in the high-alexithymic participants was higher for the sensorimotor cortex, occipital areas and right lateral frontal cortex than in the low-alexithymic participants. These results suggest a diminished connectivity within the DMN of alexithymic participants, in brain areas that may also be involved in emotional awareness and self-referential processing. On the other hand, alexithymia was associated with stronger functional connections of the DMN with brain areas involved in sensory input and control of emotion. © The Author (2012). Published by Oxford University Press.


Van der Velde J.,University of Groningen | Gromann P.M.,VU University Amsterdam | Swart M.,Center for Mental Healthcare | Wiersma D.,University of Groningen | And 4 more authors.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience | Year: 2015

Alexithymia is a psychological construct that can be divided into a cognitive and affective dimension. The cognitive dimension is characterized by difficulties in identifying, verbalizing and analysing feelings. The affective dimension comprises reduced levels of emotional experience and imagination. Alexithymia is widely regarded to arise from an impairment of emotion regulation. This is the first functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study to critically evaluate this by investigating the neural correlates of emotion regulation as a function of alexithymia levels. The aim of the current study was to investigate the neural correlates underlying the two alexithymia dimensions during emotion perception and emotion regulation. Using fMRI, we scanned 51 healthy subjects while viewing, reappraising or suppressing negative emotional pictures. The results support the idea that cognitive alexithymia, but not affective alexithymia, is associated with lower activation in emotional attention and recognition networks during emotion perception. However, in contrast with several theories, no alexithymia-related differences were found during emotion regulation (neither reappraisal nor suppression). These findings suggest that alexithymia may result from an early emotion processing deficit rather than compromised frontal circuits subserving higher-order emotion regulation processes. © The Author (2014).


Pijnenborg G.H.M.,GGZ Drenthe | Pijnenborg G.H.M.,University of Groningen | Van der Gaag M.,VU University Amsterdam | Van der Gaag M.,Parnassia Psychiatric Institute | And 4 more authors.
BMC Psychiatry | Year: 2011

Background: Insight is impaired in a majority of people with schizophrenia. Impaired insight is associated with poorer outcomes of the disorder. Based on existing literature, we developed a model that explains which processes may possibly play a role in impaired insight. This model was the starting point of the development of REFLEX: a brief psychosocial intervention to improve insight in schizophrenia. REFLEX is a 12-sessions group training, consisting of three modules of four sessions each. Modules in this intervention are: "coping with stigma", "you and your personal narrative", and "you in the present".Methods/Design: REFLEX is currently evaluated in a multicenter randomized controlled trial. Eight mental health institutions in the Netherlands participate in this evaluation. Patients are randomly assigned to either REFLEX or an active control condition, existing of cognitive remediation exercises in a group. In a subgroup of patients, fMRI scans are made before and after training in order to assess potential haemodynamic changes associated with the effects of the training.Discussion: REFLEX is one of the few interventions aiming specifically to improving insight in schizophrenia and has potential value for improving insight. Targeting insight in schizophrenia is a complex task, that comes with several methodological issues. These issues are addressed in the discussion of this paper.Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials: ISRCTN50247539. © 2011 Pijnenborg et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


De Boer M.K.,University of Groningen | Castelein S.,Center for Mental Healthcare | Castelein S.,University of Groningen | Wiersma D.,University of Groningen | And 3 more authors.
Schizophrenia Bulletin | Year: 2015

A limited number of studies have evaluated sexual functioning in patients with schizophrenia. Most patients show an interest in sex that differs little from the general population. By contrast, psychiatric symptoms, institutionalization, and psychotropic medication contribute to frequently occurring impairments in sexual functioning. Women with schizophrenia have a better social outcome, longer lasting (sexual) relationships, and more offspring than men with schizophrenia. Still, in both sexes social and interpersonal impairments limit the development of stable sexual relationships. Although patients consider sexual problems to be highly relevant, patients and clinicians not easily discuss these spontaneously, leading to an underestimation of their prevalence and contributing to decreased adherence to treatment. Studies using structured interviews or questionnaires result in many more patients reporting sexual dysfunctions. Although sexual functioning can be impaired by different factors, the use of antipsychotic medication seems to be an important factor. A comparison of different antipsychotics showed high frequencies of sexual dysfunction for risperidone and classical antipsychotics, and lower frequencies for clozapine, olanzapine, quetiapine, and aripiprazole. Postsynaptic dopamine antagonism, prolactin elevation, and a1-receptor blockade may be the most relevant factors in the pathogenesis of antipsychotic-induced sexual dysfunction. Psychosocial strategies to treat antipsychotic- induced sexual dysfunction include psychoeducation and relationship counseling. Pharmacological strategies include lowering the dose or switching to a prolactin sparing antipsychotic. Also, the addition of a dopamine agonist, aripiprazole, or a phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitor has shown some promising results, but evidence is currently scarce. © The Author 2015.


Liemburg E.J.,University of Groningen | Vercammen A.,Hospital Road | Ter Horst G.J.,University of Groningen | Curcic-Blake B.,University of Groningen | And 3 more authors.
Schizophrenia Research | Year: 2012

Brain circuits involved in language processing have been suggested to be compromised in patients with schizophrenia. This does not only include regions subserving language production and perception, but also auditory processing and attention. We investigated resting state network connectivity of auditory, language and attention networks of patients with schizophrenia and hypothesized that patients would show reduced connectivity.Patients with schizophrenia (n = 45) and healthy controls (n = 30) underwent a resting state fMRI scan. Independent components analysis was used to identify networks of the auditory cortex, left inferior frontal language regions and the anterior cingulate region, associated with attention. The time courses of the components where correlated with each other, the correlations were transformed by a Fisher's Z transformation, and compared between groups.In patients with schizophrenia, we observed decreased connectivity between the auditory and language networks. Conversely, patients showed increased connectivity between the attention and language network compared to controls. There was no relationship with severity of symptoms such as auditory hallucinations.The decreased connectivity between auditory and language processing areas observed in schizophrenia patients is consistent with earlier research and may underlie language processing difficulties. Altered anterior cingulate connectivity in patients may be a correlate of habitual suppression of unintended speech, or of excessive attention to internally generated speech. This altered connectivity pattern appears to be present independent of symptom severity, and may be suggestive of a trait, rather than a state characteristic. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.


Van der Velde J.,University of Groningen | Van Tol M.-J.,University of Groningen | Goerlich-Dobre K.S.,RWTH Aachen | Gromann P.M.,VU University Amsterdam | And 6 more authors.
Cortex | Year: 2014

Alexithymia ("no words for feelings") is a psychological construct that can be divided in a cognitive and affective dimension. The cognitive dimension reflects the ability to identify, verbalize and analyze feelings, whereas the affective dimension reflects the degree to which individuals get aroused by emotional stimuli and their ability to fantasize. These two alexithymia dimensions may differentially put individuals at risk to develop psychopathology. However, their neural correlates have rarely been investigated. The aim of the current study was to investigate whether the cognitive and affective alexithymia dimension are associated with unique anatomical profiles. Structural MRI scans of 57 participants (29 males; mean age: 34) were processed using a voxel-based morphometry (VBM) - Diffeomorphic Anatomical Registration Through Exponentiated Lie algebra (DARTEL) approach. Multiple regression analyses were performed to examine the common and specific associations between gray and white matter volume and alexithymia subdimensions. The results revealed that the cognitive dimension was related to lower dorsal anterior cingulate volume. In contrast, the affective alexithymia was associated with lower gray matter volume in the medial orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and lower white matter volume in the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) near the angular gyrus. No relationship between corpus callosum volume and alexithymia was observed. These results are consistent with the idea that there are two separable neural systems underlying alexithymia. This finding might encourage future research into the link between specific alexithymia subtypes and the development of psychopathology. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


De Boer M.K.,University of Groningen | Castelein S.,University of Groningen | Castelein S.,Center for Mental Healthcare | Bous J.,University of Groningen | And 5 more authors.
Schizophrenia Research | Year: 2013

The aim of this study is to describe the psychometric properties of the Antipsychotics and Sexual Functioning Questionnaire (ASFQ). Internal reliability, test-retest reliability, inter-rater reliability, validity and sensitivity to change were calculated in a sample of 30 patients with schizophrenia or a schizophrenia spectrum disorder using antipsychotics. The ASFQ is a semistructured interview, with good face validity and content validity, that takes on average about 10. min to complete. The ASFQ has good internal reliability (Cronbach's alpha 0.84) and good test-retest reliability (mean Spearman's rho = .76). The inter-rater reliability is good for questions about libido, orgasm, erection and ejaculation. Correlation coefficients for calculating convergent validity were modest to good when comparing the ASFQ with the corresponding items on the Subject's Response to Antipsychotics (SRA) questionnaire and the Arizona Sexual Experience Scale (ASEX). Based on preliminary evidence, it can be concluded that the Antipsychotics and Sexual Functioning Questionnaire has reasonable reliability and is available for clinical use and research. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.


Curcic-Blake B.,University of Groningen | Liemburg E.,University of Groningen | Vercammen A.,Hospital Road | Swart M.,University of Groningen | And 5 more authors.
Schizophrenia Bulletin | Year: 2013

Auditory-verbal hallucinations (AVHs) are frequently associated with activation of the left superior temporal gyrus (including Wernicke's area), left inferior frontal gyrus (including Broca's area), and the right hemisphere homologs of both areas. It has been hypothesized that disconnectivity of both interhemispheric transfer and frontal and temporal areas may underlie hallucinations in schizophrenia. We investigated reduced information flow in this circuit for the first time using dynamic causal modeling, which allows for directional inference. A group of healthy subjects and 2 groups of schizophrenia patients - with and without AVH - performed a task requiring inner speech processing during functional brain scanning. We employed connectivity models between left hemispheric speech-processing areas and their right hemispheric homologs. Bayesian model averaging was used to estimate the connectivity strengths and evaluate group differences. Patients with AVH showed significantly reduced connectivity from Wernicke's to Broca's area (97% certainty) and a trend toward a reduction in connectivity from homologs of Broca's and Wernicke's areas to Broca's area (93% and 94% certainty). The connectivity magnitude in patients without hallucinations was found to be intermediate. Our results point toward a reduced input from temporal to frontal language areas in schizophrenia patients with AVH, suggesting that Broca's activity may be less constrained by perceptual information received from the temporal cortex. In addition, a lack of synchronization between Broca and its homolog may lead to the erroneous interpretation of emotional speech activity from the right hemisphere as coming from an external source. © The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center. All rights reserved.


Liemburg E.J.,University of Groningen | van der Meer L.,University of Groningen | van der Meer L.,Center for Mental Healthcare | Swart M.,University of Groningen | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Lack of insight (unawareness of illness) is a common and clinically relevant feature of schizophrenia. Reduced levels of self-referential processing have been proposed as a mechanism underlying poor insight. The default mode network (DMN) has been implicated as a key node in the circuit for self-referential processing. We hypothesized that during resting state the DMN network would show decreased connectivity in schizophrenia patients with poor insight compared to patients with good insight. Patients with schizophrenia were recruited from mental health care centers in the north of the Netherlands and categorized in groups having good insight (n = 25) or poor insight (n = 19). All subjects underwent a resting state fMRI scan. A healthy control group (n = 30) was used as a reference. Functional connectivity of the anterior and posterior part of the DMN, identified using Independent Component Analysis, was compared between groups. Patients with poor insight showed lower connectivity of the ACC within the anterior DMN component and precuneus within the posterior DMN component compared to patients with good insight. Connectivity between the anterior and posterior part of the DMN was lower in patients than controls, and qualitatively different between the good and poor insight patient groups. As predicted, subjects with poor insight in psychosis showed decreased connectivity in DMN regions implicated in self-referential processing, although this concerned only part of the network. This finding is compatible with theories implying a role of reduced self-referential processing as a mechanism contributing to poor insight. © 2012 Liemburg et al.


Engels G.,VU University Amsterdam | Francke A.L.,Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research NIVEL | Van Meijel B.,INHolland University of Applied Sciences | Douma J.G.,VU University Amsterdam | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Pain | Year: 2014

Studies about clinical pain in schizophrenia are rare. Conclusions on pain sensitivity in people with schizophrenia are primarily based on experimental pain studies. This review attempts to assess clinical pain, that is, everyday pain without experimental manipulation, in people with schizophrenia. PubMed, PsycINFO, Embase.com, and Cochrane were searched with terms related to schizophrenia and pain. Methodological quality was assessed with the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. Fourteen studies were included. Persons with schizophrenia appear to have a diminished prevalence of pain, as well as a lower intensity of pain when compared to persons with other psychiatric diseases. When compared to healthy controls, both prevalence and intensity of pain appear to be diminished for persons with schizophrenia. However, it was found that this effect only applies to pain with an apparent medical cause, such as headache after lumbar puncture. For less severe situations, prevalence and intensity of pain appears to be comparable between people with schizophrenia and controls. Possible underlying mechanisms are discussed. Knowledge about pain in schizophrenia is important for adequate pain treatment in clinical practice. Perspective This review presents a valuable insight into clinical pain in people with schizophrenia. © 2014 by the American Pain Society.

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