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Weak Brain Connections Linked to Anger Disorders

Weak Brain Connections Linked to Anger Disorders

Weak brain connections linking regions of the brain associated with sensory input, language processing, and social interaction may explain impulsive anger issues and intermittent explosive disorder (IED).

In a new study, neuroscientists from the University of Chicago discovered inadequate neuropathways can lead to impulsive aggression.

The researchers found that white matter in a region of the brain called the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) has less integrity and density in people with IED than in healthy individuals and those with other psychiatric disorders.

The study appears in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

The SLF connects the brain’s frontal lobe — responsible for decision-making, emotion, and understanding consequences of actions — with the parietal lobe, which processes language and sensory input.

“It’s like an information superhighway connecting the frontal cortex to the parietal lobes,” said Royce Lee, M.D., lead author of the study. “We think that points to social cognition as an important area to think about for people with anger problems.”

Lee and his colleagues, including senior author Emil Coccaro, M.D., Ellen C. Manning Professor and Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at University of Chicago, used diffusion tensor imaging, a form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that measures the volume and density of white matter connective tissue in the brain.

Connectivity is a critical issue because the brains of people with psychiatric disorders usually show very few physical differences from healthy individuals.

“It’s not so much how the brain is structured, but the way these regions are connected to each other,” Lee said. “That might be where we’re going to see a lot of the problems in psychiatric disorders, so white matter is a natural place to start since that’s the brain’s natural wiring from one region to another.”

People with anger issues tend to misunderstand the intentions of other people in social situations. They think others are being hostile when they are not and make the wrong conclusions about their intentions. They also don’t take in all the data from a social interaction, such as body language or certain words, and notice only those things that reinforce their belief that the other person is challenging them.

Decreased connectivity between regions of the brain that process a social situation could lead to the impaired judgment that escalates to an explosive outburst of anger.

The discovery of connectivity deficits in a specific region of the brain like the SLF provides an important starting point for more research on people with IED, as well as those with borderline personality disorder, who share similar social and emotional problems and appear to have the same abnormality in the SLF.

“This is another example of tangible deficits in the brains of those with IED that indicate that impulsive aggressive behavior is not simply ‘bad behavior’ but behavior with a real biological basis that can be studied and treated,” Coccaro said.

Source: University of Chicago

Weak Brain Connections Linked to Anger Disorders

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2016). Weak Brain Connections Linked to Anger Disorders. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 20, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2016/07/08/weak-brain-connections-linked-to-anger-disorders/106586.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Jul 2016
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.