Psychotic Reactivity to Daily Life Stress and the Dopamine System: A Study Combining Experience Sampling and [F-18] fallypride Positron Emission Tomography

Dennis Hernaus, Dina Collip, Johan Lataster, Wolfgang Viechtbauer, Erik Myin, Jenny Ceccarini, Koen Van Laere, Jim van Os, Inez Myin-Germeys*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Stressful life events increase the risk for psychosis, and the subjective experience of stress related to daily life activities drives moment-to-moment variation in psychotic intensity. Positron emission tomography (PET) studies suggest that dopaminergic (DAergic) activity mediates the behavioral response to an experimental stressor. However, it is not known how alterations in this DAergic stress response relate to the subjective experience of stress in real life situations assessed in momentary assessment studies. This study combined [F-18]fallypride PET with an Experience Sampling ambulatory assessment approach to examine the association between the prefrontal DAergic response to experimentally induced stress and real life psychotic reactivity to the subjective experience of stress in daily life. Healthy first-degree relatives of individuals with a psychotic disorder (N = 14) and healthy controls (N = 11) participated in (a) a psychosocial [F-18]fallypride PET stress paradigm and (b) an experience sampling study, using a structured diary approach. Mixed multilevel random intercept models revealed that stress-induced [F-18]fallypride displacement, indicative of DAergic activity, in ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) was associated with psychotic reactivity to daily life stress in the entire sample. Lower levels of [F-18]fallypride displacement to stress predicted increased psychotic reactivity to daily life stress. This study combined PET neuroimaging with real life behavioral assessments in the investigation of psychotic symptoms; we showed decreased [F-18]fallypride displacement to stress in VMPFC to be associated with increased psychotic reactivity to daily life stress. The preliminary evidence in this study demonstrates that it is possible to acquire a grasp on how brain function is associated with contextualized experience, which has relevance for neuroimaging studies in general.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-37
JournalJournal of Abnormal Psychology
Volume124
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015

Keywords

  • PET
  • psychosis
  • ESM
  • stress
  • dopamine

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