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Perceived helplessness is associated with individual differences in the central motor output system

Salomons, T. V., Moayedi, M., Weissman-Fogel, I., Goldberg, M. B., Freeman, B. V., Tenenbaum, H. C. and Davis, K. D. (2012) Perceived helplessness is associated with individual differences in the central motor output system. The European Journal of Neuroscience, 35 (9). pp. 1481-1487. ISSN 0953-816X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2012.08048.x

Abstract/Summary

Learned helplessness is a maladaptive response to uncontrollable stress characterized by impaired motor escape responses, reduced motivation and learning deficits. There are important individual differences in the likelihood of becoming helpless following exposure to uncontrollable stress but little is known about the neural mechanisms underlying these individual differences. Here we used structural MRI to measure gray and white matter in individuals with chronic pain, a population at high risk for helplessness due to prolonged exposure to a poorly controlled stressor (pain). Given that self-reported helplessness is predictive of treatment outcomes in chronic pain, understanding such differences might provide valuable clinical insight. We found that the magnitude of self-reported helplessness correlated with cortical thickness in the supplementary motor area (SMA) and midcingulate cortex, regions implicated in cognitive aspects of motor behavior. We then examined the white matter connectivity of these regions and found that fractional anisotropy of connected white matter tracts along the corticospinal tract was associated with helplessness and mediated the relationship between SMA cortical thickness and helplessness. These data provide novel evidence that links individual differences in the motor output pathway with perceived helplessness over a chronic and poorly controlled stressor.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Neuroscience
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience
ID Code:33583
Publisher:Blackwell Publishing

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