Psychological Medicine



Original Article

Neural correlates of enhanced working-memory performance in dissociative disorder: a functional MRI study


BERNET M. ELZINGA a1c1, ANGELIQUE M. ARDON a2, MAAIKE K. HEIJNIS a2, MICHIEL B. De RUITER a3, RICHARD VAN DYCK a4 and DICK J. VELTMAN a4a5
a1 Section of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Leiden, The Netherlands
a2 Parnassia Group, PsyQ, Psychomedical Center, The Hague, The Netherlands
a3 VU Psychology Department, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
a4 Department of Psychiatry, VU Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
a5 Clinical PET Center, VU Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Article author query
elzinga bm   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
ardon am   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
heijnis mk   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
de ruiter mb   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
van dyck r   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
veltman dj   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 

Abstract

Background. Memory functioning has been highlighted as a central issue in pathological dissociation. In non-pathological dissociation, evidence for enhanced working memory has been found, together with greater task-load related activity. So far, no imaging studies have investigated working memory in dissociative patients.

Method. To assess working memory in dissociative patients functional magnetic resonance imaging was used during performance of a parametric, verbal working-memory task in patients with a dissociative disorder (n=16) and healthy controls (n=16).

Results. Imaging data showed that both groups activated brain regions typically involved in working memory, i.e. anterior, dorsolateral and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC), and parietal cortex. Dissociative patients showed more activation in these areas, particularly in the left anterior PFC, dorsolateral PFC and parietal cortex. In line with these findings, patients made fewer errors with increasing task load compared to controls, despite the fact that they felt more anxious and less concentrated during task performance.

Conclusions. These results extend findings in non-pathological high dissociative individuals, suggesting that trait dissociation is associated with enhanced working-memory capacities. This may distinguish dissociative patients from patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, who are generally characterized by impaired working memory.

(Published Online October 3 2006)


Correspondence:
c1 Section Clinical and Health Psychology, University Leiden, PO Box 9555, 2300 RB Leiden, The Netherlands. (Email: Elzinga@fsw.leidenuniv.nl)


Metrics
Related Content