Psychopharmacology

, Volume 210, Issue 4, pp 499–510

Effects of acute tryptophan depletion on neural processing of facial expressions of emotion in humans

  • Eileen Daly
  • Quinton Deeley
  • Brian Hallahan
  • Michael Craig
  • Michael Brammer
  • Melissa Lamar
  • Anthony Cleare
  • Vincent Giampietro
  • Christine Ecker
  • Lisa Page
  • Fiona Toal
  • Mary L. Phillips
  • Simon Surguladze
  • Declan G. M. Murphy
Original Investigation

DOI: 10.1007/s00213-010-1850-7

Cite this article as:
Daly, E., Deeley, Q., Hallahan, B. et al. Psychopharmacology (2010) 210: 499. doi:10.1007/s00213-010-1850-7

Abstract

Introduction

Acute tryptophan depletion (ATD) temporarily lowers brain serotonin (5-HT) synthesis, and behavioral studies have shown that this alters the processing of facial expressions of emotion.

Materials and methods

The neural basis for these alterations is not known. Therefore, we employed ATD and event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine neural responses during incidental processing of fearful, happy, sad, and disgusted facial expressions. Fourteen healthy male controls (age, 28 ± 10) were scanned under both placebo (SHAM) and depletion (ATD) conditions.

Results and discussion

We predicted that ATD would be associated with changes in neural activity within facial emotion-processing networks. We found that serotonergic modulation did not affect performance on the fMRI tasks, but was associated with widespread effects on neural response to components of face processing networks for fearful, disgusted, and happy but not sad expressions across differing intensities.

Conclusion

Hence, the 5-HT system affects brain function (in ‘limbic’ and ‘face processing’ regions) during incidental processing of emotional facial expressions; but this varies with emotion type and intensities.

Keywords

Acute tryptophan depletion Emotions fMRI Serotonin 

Supplementary material

213_2010_1850_MOESM1_ESM.doc (334 kb)
Supplement Table 1(DOC 333 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eileen Daly
    • 1
  • Quinton Deeley
    • 1
  • Brian Hallahan
    • 2
  • Michael Craig
    • 1
  • Michael Brammer
    • 3
  • Melissa Lamar
    • 4
  • Anthony Cleare
    • 1
  • Vincent Giampietro
    • 3
  • Christine Ecker
    • 1
  • Lisa Page
    • 1
  • Fiona Toal
    • 1
  • Mary L. Phillips
    • 5
  • Simon Surguladze
    • 1
  • Declan G. M. Murphy
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Brain Maturation, Department of Psychological Medicine and Psychiatry, Institute of PsychiatryKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryNational University of IrelandGalwayIreland
  3. 3.Brain Image Analysis Unit, Institute of PsychiatryKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.Department of Psychology, Institute of PsychiatryKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  5. 5.Department of PsychiatryThe University of Pittsburgh School of MedicinePittsburghUSA

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