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.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to graciously thank the participants and families that participated in this study. The study was funded by National Institute of Mental Health Grant 1R21MH094558 (Dr. Cullen) and the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center Faculty Research Development Grant Program (grant #11.12). This work was carried out in part using computing resources at the University of Minnesota Supercomputing Institute. This manuscript is in partial fulfillment of M. Westlund Schreiner's dissertation.
- Functional connectivity
- Non-suicidal self-injury