This is an application for an NIMH Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23) titled """"""""Physiologic Studies of Anger in Depressed Patients"""""""". It allows the candidate, who has experience with clinical psychopharmacology and positron emission tomography (PET) activation studies, to gain expertise in psychophysiology and in vivo neuroreceptor imaging techniques in the study of affective dysregulation in major depressive disorder (MDD). Numerous PET studies have demonstrated abnormal metabolic patterns in anterior paralimbic structures in patients with MDD. Numerous PET studies following negative emotion induction paradigms in healthy controls have demonstrated that anterior paralimbic structures are involved in the processing of negative emotions such as sadness and disgust. Few studies have utilized these paradigms to study emotional processing in subjects with MDD, a disorder characterized by profound disturbances of affect regulation. Patients with a well-characterized subtype of MDD, MDD with anger attacks, present with sudden uncharacteristic spells of anger accompanied by autonomic activation. This subtype of MDD provides an opportunity to characterize affect dysregulation of a specific type (anger) in a well-defined clinical population, ultimately helping to elucidate the pathophysiology of MDD. We propose to study three populations: MDD with anger attacks, MDD without anger attacks, and healthy control subjects. We will utilize narrative scripts to induce emotional states (angry, sad, and neutral states) and assess physiologic responses in the study populations utilizing psychophysiologic measures, PET activation studies, and PET in vivo neuroreceptor imaging techniques. By this proposal, the candidate seeks training in (1) clinical studies of MDD, (2) affective neuroscience, (3) statistics relevant to functional neuroimaging, and (4) neuroreceptor imaging with PET. This rigorous training plan, integrating strong didactics and multidisciplinary expertise, will teach the candidate how to synthesize information from diverse fields in studying affect dysregulation in MDD. This integrated program of training and research will advance our knowledge of the pathophysiology of MDD, yield new tools for studying emotional processing, and give the candidate the skills needed to achieve independence in a highly complex field.
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