Assessing neural markers of vulnerability to depression in adolescent girls

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Streaming Media

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Adolescent girls, depression, negative social evaluation, anterior cingulate cortex, ventromedial prefrontal cortex


Integrative Systems Neuroscience Seminar Series


In this study, we examined fMRI activity and functional connectivity in response to negative social evaluation in a sample of 50 adolescent girls, 25 of which were of high risk for developing depression (due to their mother having depression; i.e., genetic risk), and 25 of which were of low risk. In these analyses, we focused on regions previously implicated in self-referential processing (e.g., the anterior insula, anterior cingulate cortex [ACC]), emotion regulation (e.g., the ventromedial prefrontal cortex [VMPFC]), and negative emotion (e.g., the amygdala).

We found that when receiving negative social evaluation, relative to low-risk girls, high-risk girls showed greater anterior insula-VMPFC functional connectivity, greater ACC-VMPFC functional connectivity, less VMPFC-amygdala functional connectivity, and greater amygdala activity. This pattern of results entails that girls in the high-risk group exhibited greater signaling between regions implicated in self-referential regions and executive control when receiving negative social evaluation, which is consistent with a greater perceived rejection of self and subsequent recognized need to exert executive control over emotions in the high-risk group.


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