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Abnormal pontine activation in pathological laughing as shown by functional magnetic resonance imaging
  1. H Kosaka1,
  2. N Omata1,
  3. M Omori3,
  4. T Shimoyama1,
  5. T Murata1,
  6. K Kashikura4,
  7. T Takahashi1,
  8. J Murayama1,
  9. Y Yonekura2,
  10. Y Wada1
  1. 1Department of Neuropsychiatry, University of Fukui, Matsuoka, Fukui, Japan
  2. 2Biological Imaging Research Center, University of Fukui
  3. 3Department of Social Welfare Science, The Faculty of Nursing and Social Welfare Sciences, Fukui Prefectural University, Matsuoka
  4. 4Department of Radiological Technology, Gunma Prefectural College of Health Sciences, Maebashi, Gunma, Japan
  1. Correspondence to:
 H Kosaka
 Department of Neuropsychiatry, University of Fukui Matsuoka, Fukui 910-1193, Japan; hirotaka{at}


To explore the aetiology of pathological laughing, a 65-year-old woman with pathological laughing was examined by 3-T functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) before and after treatment with drugs. Here, we report that the patient consistently showed exaggerated pontine activation during the performance of three tasks before treatment, whereas abnormal pontine activation was no longer found after successful treatment with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, paroxetine. Our findings in this first fMRI study of pathological laughing suggest that serotonergic replacement decreases the aberrant activity in a circuit that involves the pons.

  • EPI, echo planar imaging
  • fMRI, functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • PLC, pathological laughing and crying
  • SSRI, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
  • TR/TE, repetition time or echo time

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  • Competing interests: None declared.

  • The protocol was approved by the Ethical Committee of University of Fukui and the patient gave written informed consent for the study.

  • Consent was obtained for publication of the patient’s details described in this report.