Impaired response inhibition and excess cortical thickness as candidate endophenotypes for trichotillomania.

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Chamberlain, Samuel R 
Odlaug, Brian L 
Derbyshire, Katie L 
Leppink, Eric W 
Grant, Jon E 

Trichotillomania is characterized by repetitive pulling out of one's own hair. Impaired response inhibition has been identified in patients with trichotillomania, along with gray matter density changes in distributed neural regions including frontal cortex. The objective of this study was to evaluate impaired response inhibition and abnormal cortical morphology as candidate endophenotypes for the disorder. Subjects with trichotillomania (N = 12), unaffected first-degree relatives of these patients (N = 10), and healthy controls (N = 14), completed the Stop Signal Task (SST), a measure of response inhibition, and structural magnetic resonance imaging scans. Group differences in SST performance and cortical thickness were explored using permutation testing. Groups differed significantly in response inhibition, with patients demonstrating impaired performance versus controls, and relatives occupying an intermediate position. Permutation cluster analysis revealed significant excesses of cortical thickness in patients and their relatives compared to controls, in right inferior/middle frontal gyri (Brodmann Area, BA 47 & 11), right lingual gyrus (BA 18), left superior temporal cortex (BA 21), and left precuneus (BA 7). No significant differences emerged between groups for striatum or cerebellar volumes. Impaired response inhibition and an excess of cortical thickness in neural regions germane to inhibitory control, and action monitoring, represent vulnerability markers for trichotillomania. Future work should explore genetic and environmental associations with these biological markers.


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Cognition, Compulsivity, Endophenotype, Imaging, Impulsivity, Trichotillomania
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Journal of Psychiatric Research
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This research was supported by a grant from the Trichotillomania Learning Center, USA, to Mr. Odlaug; and by a grant from the Academy of Medical Sciences, UK, to Dr. Chamberlain. Neither of these entities had any further role in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the paper for publication.