Neuroimaging studies of children with serious emotional disturbances: A selective review

Jane Avery Serene, Manzar Ashtari, Philip R. Szeszko, Sanjiv Kumra

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Objectives: To critically review and integrate, from a developmental perspective, recent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies of 4 childhood psychiatric disorders: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (BD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and major depressive disorder (MDD). Method: We reviewed published reports in refereed journals. We briefly describe the major findings with respect to the brain morphometry, chemistry, and function of children with psychiatric disorders and synthesize the reports in a summary to update clinicians. Results: Some cortical grey matter abnormalities associated with schizophrenia appear to predate the onset of frank psychosis and continue to advance after the onset of psychosis, at least in more severe cases. Pediatric BD is associated with abnormalities in a circuit, thought to be involved in mood regulation, that encompasses the amygdala, striatum, and ventral PFC. Frontostriatal abnormalities are reported consistently in ADHD, potentially reflecting abnormalities in the development of cognitive control. Children with MDD show prefrontal cortical alterations that may differ in familial and nonfamilial subtypes of MDD. Conclusions: Results from neuroimaging studies of childhood psychopathology reveal abnormalities in the developmental trajectories observed in healthy children. Although MRI has increased our understanding of the pathophysiology of these disorders, routine neuroimaging for children with severe emotional disturbances is not indicated for diagnostic purposes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-145
Number of pages11
JournalCanadian Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Children
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Neuroimaging
  • Structural magnetic resonance imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'Neuroimaging studies of children with serious emotional disturbances: A selective review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this