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Open AccessArticle

Increased Amygdala Activations during the Emotional Experience of Death-Related Pictures in Complicated Grief: An fMRI Study

1
Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Center (CIMCYC),University of Granada, 18071 Granada, Spain
2
Department of Health Psychology, University of Alicante, 03690 Alicante, Spain
3
End-of-Life Research Network (EOL), 18071 Granada, Spain
4
Laboratory of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience (UCM-UPM), Centre for Biomedical Technology (CTB), 28223 Madrid, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9(3), 851; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9030851
Received: 23 February 2020 / Revised: 15 March 2020 / Accepted: 16 March 2020 / Published: 20 March 2020
Complicated grief (CG) is associated with alterations in various components of emotional processing. The main aim of this study was to identify brain activations in individuals diagnosed with CG while they were observing positive, negative, and death-related pictures. The participants included 19 individuals with CG and 19 healthy non-bereaved (NB) individuals. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans were obtained during an emotional experience task. The perception of death-related pictures differed between the CG group and the NB group, with a greater activation in the former of the amygdala, putamen, hypothalamus, middle frontal gyrus, and anterior cingulate cortex. Amygdala and putamen activations were significantly correlated with Texas Revised Inventory of Grief scores in the CG group, suggesting that the higher level of grief in this group was associated with a greater activation in both brain areas while watching death-related pictures. A significant interaction between image type and group was observed in the amygdala, midbrain, periaqueductal gray, cerebellum, and hippocampus, largely driven by the greater activation of these areas in the CG group when watching death-related pictures and the lower activation when watching positive-valence pictures. In this study, individuals with CG showed significantly distinct brain activations in response to different emotional images. View Full-Text
Keywords: grief; emotions; functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging; amygdala; reward; prefrontal cortex; putamen; death grief; emotions; functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging; amygdala; reward; prefrontal cortex; putamen; death
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Fernández-Alcántara, M.; Verdejo-Román, J.; Cruz-Quintana, F.; Pérez-García, M.; Catena-Martínez, A.; Fernández-Ávalos, M.I.; Pérez-Marfil, M.N. Increased Amygdala Activations during the Emotional Experience of Death-Related Pictures in Complicated Grief: An fMRI Study. J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9, 851.

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