Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Biology

Degree Level



Biological Sciences


Leong, Josiah

Committee Member/Reader

Evans, Timothy

Committee Member/Second Reader

Durdik, Jeannine

Committee Member/Third Reader

Thomas, Johanna


Early Life Stress (ELS) and adversity increase people’s risk for developing mental, social, or emotional dysregulation and disorders later in life. The objective of this study was to test whether ELS in adolescents could prospectively predict future conduct disorder. The study additionally tested potential neural mediators of the effect of ELS on future conduct disorder, and specifically targeted the structural connections from the anterior insula and medial prefrontal cortex to the Nucleus Accumbens (NAcc). Data for the project came from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study (ABCD study), which is a longitudinal multi-site consortium funded by the National Institutes of Health that is collecting the full gamut of biomedical assessments in over 11,000 adolescents. Our findings suggest ELS predicts greater likelihood of conduct disorder two years later, and further, ELS correlates with abnormalities in structural connection between the anterior insula and NAcc. This research identifies early environmental and neural factors that might lead adolescents to develop conduct disorder.


Early Life Stress, Conduct Disorder, Nucleus Accumbens, Medial Prefrontal Cortex, Anterior Insula