Human imaging studies of suicidal behavior and its risk factors
This chapter reviews neuroimaging studies of suicidal behavior and its major risk factors, and discusses the relevance of the findings for the understanding, prediction, and prevention of suicide. Functional and structural imaging studies show a reduced prefrontal perfusion or metabolism and a blunted increase in activation when challenged in association with a history of suicide attempts. Moreover, impairment of the prefrontal serotonergic system in association with suicidal behavior is demonstrated in a number of studies. Recent structural and functional imaging studies show changes in cortical and subcortical areas and their connections in association with suicidal behavior and risk factors, such as hopelessness, impulsivity, and aggression. The global picture that emerges from these studies reflects the involvement of a fronto-cingulo-striatal network in the development of suicidal behavior. The relevance of these findings for our understanding of suicidal behavior is supported by findings from neuropsychological studies in suicide attempters, showing dysfunctions in neuropsychological domains, which involve similar neuroanatomical regions. Further study is needed to translate the increasing knowledge from neuroimaging studies in clinical tools for the prediction and prevention of suicidal behavior.
van Heeringen, K. , Desmyter, S. , Bijttebier, S. (2014)., Human imaging studies of suicidal behavior and its risk factors, in K. E. Cannon & T. J. Hudzik (eds.), Suicide: phenomenology and neurobiology, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 245-259.
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