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Emotional Mental Imagery Abnormalities in Monozygotic Twins With, at High-Risk of, and Without Affective Disorders: Present in Affected Twins in Remission but Absent in High-Risk Twins
Imperial Coll London, Dept Brain Sci, Div Psychiat, London, England.
Imperial Coll London, Dept Brain Sci, Div Psychiat, London, England;Kings Coll London, Inst Psychiat Psychol & Neurosci, Social Genet & Dev Psychiat Ctr, London, England;Univ Oxford, Oxford Inst Clin Psychol Training, Med Sci Div, Oxford, England.
Copenhagen Univ Hosp, Rigshosp, Psychiat Ctr Copenhagen, Copenhagen Affect Disorder Res Ctr CADIC, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Imperial Coll London, Dept Brain Sci, Div Psychiat, London, England.
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2019 (English)In: Frontiers in Psychiatry, ISSN 1664-0640, E-ISSN 1664-0640, Vol. 10, article id 801Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Mental imagery abnormalities feature across affective disorders including bipolar disorder (BD) and unipolar depression (UD). Maladaptive emotional imagery has been proposed as a maintenance factor for affective symptomatology and a target for mechanism-driven psychological treatment developments. Where imagery abnormalities feature beyond acute affective episodes, further opportunities for innovation arise beyond treatments, such as for tertiary/relapse prevention (e.g., in remitted individuals) or primary prevention (e.g., in non-affected but at-risk individuals). The aim of our study was to investigate for the first time the presence of possible mental imagery abnormalities in affected individuals in remission and at-risk individuals for affective disorders using a familial risk design. Methods: A population-based cohort of monozygotic twins was recruited through linkage between the Danish national registries (N=204). Participants were grouped as: affected (remitted BD/UD; n = 115); high-risk (co-twin with history of BD/UD; n = 49), or low-risk (no co-twin history of BD/UD; n = 40). Twins completed mental imagery measures spanning key subjective domains (spontaneous imagery use and emotional imagery) and cognitive domains (imagery inspection and imagery manipulation). Results: Affected twins in remission reported enhanced emotional mental imagery compared to both low- and high-risk twins. This was characterized by greater impact of i) intrusive prospective imagery (Impact of Future Events Scale) and ii) deliberately-generated prospective imagery of negative scenarios (Prospective Imagery Task). There were no significant differences in these key measures between affected BD and UD twins in remission. Additionally, low- and high-risk twins did not significantly differ on these emotional imagery measures. There were also no significant differences between the three groups on non-emotional measures including spontaneous imagery use and cognitive stages of imagery. Conclusions: Abnormalities in emotional prospective imagery are present in monozygotic twins with affective disorders in remission-despite preserved cognitive stages of imagery-but absent in unaffected high-risk twins, and thus do not appear to index familial risk (i.e., unlikely to qualify as "endophenotypes"). Elevated emotional prospective imagery represents a promising treatment/prevention target in affective disorders.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Frontiers Media S.A., 2019. Vol. 10, article id 801
Keywords [en]
mental imagery, future simulation, bipolar disorder, depression, twins, endophenotype
National Category
Psychiatry
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-400112DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00801ISI: 000499003600001PubMedID: 31780967OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-400112DiVA, id: diva2:1380236
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2017-00957Wellcome trust, WT088217Available from: 2019-12-18 Created: 2019-12-18 Last updated: 2019-12-18Bibliographically approved

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