To investigate neuroanatomical changes in patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) compared to major depressive disorder (MDD) and healthy controls.
Forty-two drug-naïve PNES subjects and 25 patients with MDD, matched for demographic characteristics and level of depression (as measured by Beck Depression Inventory-II, BDI-II), were consecutively recruited. Patients performed an extensive neuropsychiatric assessment including: Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale, Traumatic Experience Checklist, Dissociative Experiences Scale, Toronto Alexithymia Scale and Somatoform Dissociation Questionnaire (SDQ-20). All patients, together with 78 healthy matched controls, underwent 3T brain MRI followed by surface-based morphometry.
Cortical thickness analysis revealed significant cortical thinning in bilateral medial orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and left rostral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in patients with MDD compared to subjects with PNES and controls. Interestingly, increased thickness of the right pars triangularis was found in PNES subjects compared to controls. PNES showed higher scores in SDQ-20 (p < 0.001) compared to MDD, which was corroborated by neuroimaging data, where somatoform dissociation scores correlated with morphological changes in the left medial OFC.
Our results show selective cortical thinning over the medial OFC in patients with PNES compared to wider regions of thinning in patients with MDD. Somatoform dissociation was the only psychopathological assessment significantly different in PNES and MDD.

Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.