Behavioural, autonomic, and neural responsivity in depersonalisation-derealisation disorder: A systematic review of experimental evidence

L S Merritt Millman, Xi Huang, Pong Wainipitapong, Nick Medford, Susannah Pick*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Abstract

Depersonalisation-derealisation disorder (DDD) is characterised by distressing experiences of separation from oneself and/or one’s surroundings, potentially resulting from alterations in affective, cognitive, and physiological functions. This systematic review aimed to synthesise current experimental evidence of relevance to proposed mechanisms underlying DDD, to appraise existing theoretical models, and to inform future research and theoretical developments. Studies were included if they tested explicit hypotheses in DDD samples, with experimental manipulations of at least one independent variable, alongside behavioural, subjective, neurological, affective and/or physiological dependent variables. Some evidence for diminished subjective responsivity to aversive images and sounds, and hyperactivation in neurocircuits associated with emotional regulation when viewing aversive images emerged, corroborating neurobiological models of DDD. Inconsistencies were present regarding behavioural and autonomic responsivity to facial expressions, emotional memory, and self-referential processing. Common confounds included small sample sizes, medication, and comorbidities. Alterations in affective reactivity and regulation appear to be present in DDD; however, further research employing more rigorous research designs is required to provide stronger evidence for these possible mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Jun 2024

Keywords

  • Depersonalization
  • Derealisation
  • dissociation
  • neuroimaging
  • Experimental
  • systematic review
  • autonomic
  • neuropsychiatry

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