Get Real: Orbitofrontal Cortex Mediates the Ability to Sense Reality in Early Adolescents.

Liverani MC, Freitas LGA, Siffredi V, Mikneviciute G, Martuzzi R, Meskaldij DE, Borradori Tolsa C, Ha-Vinh Leuchter R, Schnider A, Van De Ville D, Hüppi PS.

Brain Behav. 2020;10(4):e01552. doi:10.1002/brb3.1552


Introduction: Orbitofrontal reality filtering (ORFi) is a memory mechanism that distinguishes whether a thought is relevant to present reality or not. In adults, it is mediated by the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). This region is still not fully developed in preteenagers, but ORFi is already active from age 7. Here, we probe the neural correlates of ORFi in early adolescents, hypothesizing that OFC mediates the sense of reality in this population.

Methods: Functional magnetic resonance images (fMRI) were acquired in 22 early adolescents during a task composed of two runs: run 1 measuring recognition capacity; run 2 measuring ORFi; each containing two types of images (conditions): distractors (D: images seen for the first time in the current run) and targets (T: images seen for the second time in the current run). Group region of interest (ROI) analysis was performed in a flexible factorial design with two factors (run and condition) using SPM12.

Results: We found significant main effects for the experimental run and condition. The bilateral OFC activation was higher during ORFi than during the first run. Additionally, the OFC was more active while processing distractors than targets.

Conclusion: These results confirm, for the first time, the role of OFC in reality filtering in early adolescents.