A Multilevel Examination of Cognitive Control in Adolescents With Nonsuicidal Self-injury

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Background: Nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI), a transdiagnostic behavior, often emerges during adolescence. This study used the Research Domain Criteria approach to examine cognitive control (CC) with a focus on response inhibition and urgency relative to NSSI severity in adolescents. Methods: One hundred thirty-eight adolescents, assigned female sex at birth, with a continuum of NSSI severity completed negative and positive urgency measurements (self-report), an emotional Go/NoGo task within negative and positive contexts (behavioral), and structural and functional imaging during resting state and task (brain metrics). Cortical thickness, subcortical volume, resting-state functional connectivity, and task activation focused on an a priori–defined CC network. Eighty-four participants had all these main measures. Correlations and stepwise model selection followed by multiple regression were used to examine the association between NSSI severity and multiunit CC measurements. Results: Higher NSSI severity correlated with higher negative urgency and lower accuracy during positive no-inhibition (Go). Brain NSSI severity correlates varied across modalities and valence. For right medial prefrontal cortex and right caudate, higher NSSI severity correlated with greater negative but lower positive inhibition (NoGo) activation. The opposite pattern was observed for the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Higher NSSI severity correlated with lower left dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) negative inhibition activation and thicker left dorsal ACC, yet it was correlated with higher right rostral ACC positive inhibition activation and thinner right rostral ACC, as well as lower CC network resting-state functional connectivity. Conclusions: Findings revealed multifaceted signatures of NSSI severity across CC units of analysis, confirming the relevance of this domain in adolescent NSSI and illustrating how multimodal approaches can shed light on psychopathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)855-866
Number of pages12
JournalBiological Psychiatry Global Open Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023


  • Adolescents
  • Cognitive control
  • Imaging
  • Impulsivity
  • RDoC
  • Self-injury

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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