Neural Substrates Associated with Weather-Induced Mood Variability: An Exploratory Study Using ASL Perfusion fMRI

Volume 12
Issue 2
Seth J. Gillihan, John A. Detre, Martha J. Farah, & Hengyi Rao
Daily variations in weather are known to be associated with variations in mood. However, little is known about the specific brain regions that instantiate weather-related mood changes. We used a data-driven approach and ASL perfusion fMRI to assess the neural substrates associated with weather-induced mood variability. The data-driven approach was conducted with mood ratings under various weather conditions (N = 464). Forward stepwise regression was conducted to develop a statistical model of mood as a function of weather conditions. The model results were used to calculate the mood-relevant weather index which served as the covariate in the regression analysis of the resting CBF (N = 42) measured by ASL perfusion fMRI under various weather conditions. The resting CBF activities in the left insula-prefrontal cortex and left superior parietal lobe were negatively correlated (corrected p<0.05) with the weather index, indicating that better mood-relevant weather conditions were associated with lower CBF in these regions within the brain’s emotional network. The present study represents a first step toward the investigation of the effect of natural environment on baseline human brain function, and suggests the feasibility of ASL perfusion fMRI for such study.

Key words: ASL perfusion fMRI, cerebral blood flow, weather, mood, insula