Year: 2020 Source: Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior. (2019). 49(6), 1600-1608. SIEC No: 20200131

A critical need exists to identify objective markers of suicide ideation. One potential suicide risk marker is the Suicide Implicit Association Task (S‐IAT), a behavioral task that uses differential reaction times to compare the implicit association between the self and death to the implicit association between the self and life. Individuals with a stronger association between the self and death on the S‐IAT are more likely to attempt suicide in the future. To better understand the neural underpinnings of the implicit association between self and either life or death, a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) version of the S‐IAT was adapted and piloted in healthy volunteers.
An fMRI version of the S‐IAT was administered to 28 healthy volunteers (ages 18–65, 14F/14M).
Behavioral results were comparable to those seen in non‐scanner versions of the task. The task was associated with patterns of neural activation in areas relevant to emotional processing, specifically the insula and right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex.
Performance on the S‐IAT fMRI task may reflect scores obtained outside of the scanner. In future evaluations, this task could help assess whether individuals at increased risk of suicide display a different pattern of neural activation in response to self/death and self/life stimuli.