Altered visual cortex excitability in premenstrual dysphoric disorder: Evidence from magnetoencephalographic gamma oscillations and perceptual suppression
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a psychiatric condition characterized by extreme mood shifts during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle (MC) due to abnormal sensitivity to neurosteroids and unbalanced neural excitation/inhibition (E/I) ratio. We hypothesized that in women with PMDD in the luteal phase, these factors would alter the frequency of magnetoencephalographic visual gamma oscillations, affect modulation of their power by excitatory drive, and decrease perceptual spatial suppression. Women with PMDD and control women were examined twice–during the follicular and luteal phases of their MC. We recorded visual gamma response (GR) while modulating the excitatory drive by increasing the drift rate of the high-contrast grating (static, ‘slow’, ‘medium’, and ‘fast’). Contrary to our expectations, GR frequency was not affected in women with PMDD in either phase of the MC. GR power suppression, which is normally associated with a switch from the ‘optimal’ for GR slow drift rate to the medium drift rate, was reduced in women with PMDD and was the only GR parameter that distinguished them from control participants specifically in the luteal phase and predicted severity of their premenstrual symptoms. Over and above the atypical luteal GR suppression, in both phases of the MC women with PMDD had abnormally strong GR facilitation caused by a switch from the ‘suboptimal’ static to the ‘optimal’ slow drift rate. Perceptual spatial suppression did not differ between the groups but decreased from the follicular to the luteal phase only in PMDD women. The atypical modulation of GR power suggests that neuronal excitability in the visual cortex is constitutively elevated in PMDD and that this E/I imbalance is further exacerbated during the luteal phase. However, the unaltered GR frequency does not support the hypothesis of inhibitory neuron dysfunction in PMDD.