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Thirty-Third Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology

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Inducing Paranoia Leads to Resting Amygdala Hyperactivity in Healthy Individuals

Objective: Among individuals with schizophrenia, paranoia has been linked to increased resting cerebral blood flow (CBF) in amygdala, suggesting that amygdala hyperactivity may be a mechanism for paranoid ideation. The present study tested this possible mechanism by assessing whether experimentally inducing paranoia in non-clinical participants resulted in increased amygdala CBF. Methods: Healthy undergraduates (n=63) completed an initial assessment of resting CBF via arterial spin labeling imaging. Participants were then randomly assigned to either a paranoia induction (n=32) or control (n=31) condition lasting approximately 30 minutes and then scanned again. Resting CBF values were extracted from right and left amygdala and analyzed using repeated measures ANOVA with time (within-subjects) and group (between-subjects) as independent variables. Results: While the group by time interaction in right amygdala did not reach statistical significance (p=.07), individuals in the paranoia induction condition showed increased resting CBF in right amygdala at post-induction relative to pre-induction (p=.04). In contrast, individuals in the control cognition showed decreased resting CBF over time (p=.04). Left amygdala showed no significant effects. Conclusions: These results support the idea that increased tonic activity of the amygdala may be a neurobehavioral mechanism for paranoia and the over-attribution of threat to benign stimuli.

Amy Pinkham
The University of Texas at Dallas

Emily Bass
The University of Texas at Dallas

Hans Klein
The University of Texas at Dallas

Cassi Springfield
The University of Texas at Dallas

Iris McColm
The University of Texas at Dallas

Sina Aslan


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