Neural Circuit Markers of Familial Risk for Depression Among Healthy Youths in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study

Bailey Holt-Gosselin, Taylor J Keding, Rhayna Poulin, Alexis Brieant, Amanda Rueter, Timothy J Hendrickson, Anders Perrone, Nora Byington, Audrey Houghton, Oscar Miranda-Dominguez, Eric Feczko, Damien A Fair, Jutta Joormann, Dylan G Gee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Family history of depression is a robust predictor of early-onset depression, which may confer risk through alterations in neural circuits that have been implicated in reward and emotional processing. These alterations may be evident in youths who are at familial risk for depression but who do not currently have depression. However, the identification of robust and replicable findings has been hindered by few studies and small sample sizes. In the current study, we sought to identify functional connectivity (FC) patterns associated with familial risk for depression. Methods: Participants included healthy (i.e., no lifetime psychiatric diagnoses) youths at high familial risk for depression (HR) (n = 754; at least one parent with a history of depression) and healthy youths at low familial risk for psychiatric problems (LR) (n = 1745; no parental history of psychopathology) who were 9 to 10 years of age and from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study sample. We conducted whole-brain seed-to-voxel analyses to examine group differences in resting-state FC with the amygdala, caudate, nucleus accumbens, and putamen. We hypothesized that HR youths would exhibit global amygdala hyperconnectivity and striatal hypoconnectivity patterns primarily driven by maternal risk. Results: HR youths exhibited weaker caudate-angular gyrus FC than LR youths (α = 0.04, Cohen's d = 0.17). HR youths with a history of maternal depression specifically exhibited weaker caudate-angular gyrus FC (α = 0.03, Cohen's d = 0.19) as well as weaker caudate-dorsolateral prefrontal cortex FC (α = 0.04, Cohen's d = 0.21) than LR youths. Conclusions: Weaker striatal connectivity may be related to heightened familial risk for depression, primarily driven by maternal history. Identifying brain-based markers of depression risk in youths can inform approaches to improving early detection, diagnosis, and treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBiological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging
Early online dateMay 12 2023
StateE-pub ahead of print - May 12 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Society of Biological Psychiatry


  • ABCD Study
  • Depression
  • Familial risk for depression
  • Functional connectivity
  • Resting-state fMRI
  • Youth

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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