Citalopram modulation of neuronal responses to aversive face emotions: a functional MRI study

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This study investigated the serotonergic modulation of face emotion processing using blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) functional MRI. In a placebo-controlled, balanced order design, intravenous citalopram (7.5 mg) was given to 12 male volunteers 60 min before a covert face emotion recognition task. Angry, disgusted and fearful faces produced BOLD signal responses, which were broadly consistent with previous findings. Citalopram enhanced the BOLD signal response in the left posterior insula (together with nonprespecified pulvinar and visual cortex) but attenuated activation in the left amygdala to disgusted faces and right amygdala activation to fearful faces. No citalopram modulation of BOLD responses to angry faces were found. These results suggest that serotonin modulates low-level amygdala activation to aversive stimuli.

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