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Characteristics of brain functional and structural connectivity in alexithymic students

Authors Fang Y, Li M, Mei M, Sun X, Han D

Received 13 May 2018

Accepted for publication 18 July 2018

Published 9 October 2018 Volume 2018:14 Pages 2609—2615

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S174015

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Andrew Yee

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Wai Kwong Tang


Yantong Fang,1 Mei Li,2 Minjun Mei,2 Xiaofei Sun,2 Dai Han,1,3,4

1Children and Adolescents Mental Health Joint Clinic, The Affiliated Hospital of Hangzhou Normal University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, People’s Republic of China; 2Mental Health Education and Counseling Center, Hangzhou Normal University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, People’s Republic of China; 3Institutes of Psychological Sciences, Hangzhou Normal University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, People’s Republic of China; 4Zhejiang Key Laboratory for Research in Assessment of Cognitive Impairments, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, People’s Republic of China

Background: Alexithymia is a multifaceted personality trait and a risk factor for several mental and physical diseases.
Methods: In this study, 21 alexithymic students and 21 nonalexithymic students were recruited from the local university and assigned to the alexithymic group and the control group, respectively. Then, the functional connectivity and the structural connectivity among the brain regions of the students were investigated using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rsfMRI), function connection (FC) analysis, and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).
Results: The rsfMRI results revealed 14 brain regions showing significant differences in the amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations between the two groups. Comparative analysis of the FC and DTI data in these brain regions between the two groups identified altered levels of functional and structural connectivity between the following four pairs of regions in the alexithymic subjects: the right inferior temporal gyrus and the central posterior gyrus, the left temporal gyrus and the insula, and the bilateral superior frontal gyrus and the anterior cingulate gyrus.
Conclusion: Compared with single MRI analysis, the multiple MRI analysis identified more precisely the brain regions that could play a key role in the development of alexithymia.

Keywords: rsfMRI, DTI, functional connectivity, structural connectivity, alexithymia

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