Print page Print page
Switch language
The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital

Neural response to emotional faces in monozygotic twins: association with familial risk of affective disorders

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


  1. A Contrast-Adaptive Method for Simultaneous Whole-Brain and Lesion Segmentation in Multiple Sclerosis

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  2. Daily mobility patterns in patients with bipolar disorder and healthy individuals

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

View graph of relations

Background: Aberrant neural and cognitive response to emotional faces has been observed in people at familial risk of an affective disorder. In this functional MRI study of monozygotic twins, we explored neural correlates of the attentional avoidance of emotional faces that we had previously observed in high-risk versus affected twins, and whether an abnormal neural response to emotional faces represents a risk endophenotype.

Methods: We recruited unaffected monozygotic twins with a co-twin history of mood episodes (high-risk), monozygotic twins with previous mood episodes (affected) and monozygotic twins with no personal or first-degree history of mood episodes (low-risk) between December 2014 and January 2017 based on a nationwide register linkage. Participants viewed fearful and happy faces while performing a gender discrimination task during functional MRI (fMRI) and performed emotional faces dot-probe and facial expression recognition tasks outside the scanner.

Results: A total of 129 monozygotic twins underwent whole-brain fMRI. Highrisk twins (n = 38) displayed greater medial and superior prefrontal response to emotional faces than affected twins (n = 62). This greater activity correlated with stronger attentional avoidance of emotional faces in high-risk twins. In contrast, high-risk and affected twins showed no aberrant neural activity to emotional faces compared with low-risk twins (n = 29).

Limitations: A limitation of this study was its cross-sectional design.

Conclusion: Greater recruitment of the medial and superior prefrontal cortex during implicit emotion processing in high-risk versus affected twins may represent a compensatory or resilience mechanism. In contrast, aberrant neural response to emotional faces does not seem to be a risk endophenotype for affective disorders.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of psychiatry & neuroscience : JPN
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019

ID: 56947273