Year: 2021 Source: Journal of Affective Disorders. (2021). 285, 63-68. SIEC No: 20210164

Suicidal behaviors can result from a complex interaction between social stressors and individual vulnerability. Evidence suggests a specific neural processing of social cues in suicide attempters without knowledge of how it relates to real-world experiences.
To investigate the association between brain activity during experimental social exclusion (measured by functional MRI) and psychological pain in daily life (assessed by Ecological Momentary Assessment) in patients with a lifetime history of suicide attempt.
Thirty-three euthymic females with a history of a major depressive episode were recruited: 13 suicide attempters and 20 affective controls (no history of suicide attempt). Functional MRI scans were acquired while participants played the Cyberball game, a validated social exclusion paradigm. After fMRI, participants completed EMA for a one-week period. Five times per day, they were asked to rate their psychological pain, hopelessness and the negativity of daily events. EMA indices (psychological pain, hopelessness and their interaction with negative events) were correlated with cerebral activations using a ROI approach (orbitofrontal, dorsal and ventrolateral prefrontal cortices, anterior cingulate cortex and insula) in each group.
We found a negative correlation between daily ratings of psychological pain and orbitofrontal activation for exclusion versus inclusion during the Cyberball game in suicide attempters but not in affective controls. We did not find correlations between cerebral activation and daily hopelessness ratings.
Small sample size
Scanner-based orbitofrontal activity during social exclusion relates to psychological pain in daily life which participates in suicide risk among vulnerable individuals.