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Neural correlates of urban risk environments 

Neural correlates of urban risk environments
Neural correlates of urban risk environments

Imke L. J. Lemmers-Jansen

, Anne-Kathrin J. Fett

, and Lydia Krabbendam

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date: 27 May 2022

Epidemiological studies suggest that the observed association between urbanicity and psychosis may be explained in part by social deprivation, reduced social capital affecting cohesion and trust, and minority group and ethnic density effects, which in turn may represent aspects of “social defeat.” In addition, urbanicity is also associated with pollution, noise, and lack of green space, which may negatively impact a range of health outcomes. This chapter reviews the neuroimaging literature on brain function, structure, and connectivity in relation to urbanicity. Research in patients with psychosis has mostly shown associations of urbanicity with brain functioning, rather than structure or connectivity. Neuroimaging research in healthy individuals may support altered social stress processing as a possible explanatory mechanism. Altered reward processing associated with urbanicity may provide an explanation for the possible influence of urban environments on dopamine dysregulation and the pathogenesis of psychosis. Mentalizing and sensory gating deficits may also mediate some of the negative effects of the city on mental health. A sustained effort toward exact replication is required to further develop this promising field.

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