Multi-modal neuroimaging of adolescents with non-suicidal self-injury: Amygdala functional connectivity

Melinda Westlund Schreiner, Bonnie Klimes-Dougan, Bryon A Mueller, Lynn E Eberly, Kristina M Reigstad, Patricia A. Carstedt, Kathleen M Thomas, Ruskin H Hunt, Kelvin O Lim, Kathryn R Cullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Background Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is a significant mental health problem among adolescents. Research is needed to clarify the neurobiology of NSSI and identify candidate neurobiological targets for interventions. Based on prior research implicating heightened negative affect and amygdala hyperactivity in NSSI, we pursued a systems approach to characterize amygdala functional connectivity networks during rest (resting-state functional connectivity [RSFC)]) and a task (task functional connectivity [TFC]) in adolescents with NSSI. Method We examined amygdala networks in female adolescents with NSSI and healthy controls (n = 45) using resting-state fMRI and a negative emotion face-matching fMRI task designed to activate the amygdala. Connectivity analyses included amygdala RSFC, amygdala TFC, and psychophysiological interactions (PPI) between amygdala connectivity and task conditions. Results Compared to healthy controls, adolescents with NSSI showed atypical amygdala-frontal connectivity during rest and task; greater amygdala RSFC in supplementary motor area (SMA) and dorsal anterior cingulate; and differential amygdala-occipital connectivity between rest and task. After correcting for depression symptoms, amygdala-SMA RSFC abnormalities, among others, remained significant. Limitations This study's limitations include its cross-sectional design and its absence of a psychiatric control group. Conclusions Using a multi-modal approach, we identified widespread amygdala circuitry anomalies in adolescents with NSSI. While deficits in amygdala-frontal connectivity (driven by depression symptoms) replicates prior work in depression, hyperconnectivity between amygdala and SMA (independent of depression symptoms) has not been previously reported. This circuit may represent an important mechanism underlying the link between negative affect and habitual behaviors. These abnormalities may represent intervention targets for adolescents with NSSI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-55
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Oct 15 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • Adolescents
  • Amygdala
  • Functional connectivity
  • Neuroimaging
  • Non-suicidal self-injury


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