Reduced fronto-amygdalar connectivity in adolescence is associated with increased depression symptoms over time

Hannah Scheuer, Gabriela Alarcón, Damion V. Demeter, Eric Earl, Damien A. Fair, Bonnie J. Nagel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Depression is common among adolescents, affecting greater than 12% of youth in a given year. Studies have shown aberrant amygdala connectivity in depressed adolescents, compared with controls; however, no studies have examined whether these abnormalities precede and heighten risk for depressive symptom expression. This study used resting state functional connectivity (RSFC) magnetic resonance imaging to examine neurobiological markers of escalating depression symptoms in adolescents (ages 12–16 years; free from psychopathology at baseline). Of a large sample of adolescents, 18 showed ≥ 1 S.D. increase in depression scale t-scores over time (“escalators” time to escalation ranging from 6 to 54 months in follow up) and were matched and compared to 19 youth showing stable CDI scores over time (“controls”). Whole-brain analyses on baseline RSFC data using an amygdala seed region-of-interest (ROI) showed that controls had greater RSFC, relative to escalators, between the right amygdala and left inferior frontal and supramarginal gyrus and right mid-cingulate cortex. Additionally, relative to escalators, control youth had less RSFC between the left amygdala and cerebellum. Findings suggest a possible neurobiological marker of increasing depressive symptoms during adolescence, characterized in part by reduced fronto-limbic connectivity, suggesting a premorbid deficiency in top-down emotional regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-41
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
StatePublished - Aug 30 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the members of the Developmental Brain Imaging Lab at Oregon Health & Science University for their efforts in data collection. Special thanks to Kristina Hernandez, MA for her help with data organization. Funding: This research was supported by R01 AA017664 (Nagel), the Wessinger Foundation (Nagel), F31 AA023688-01 (Alarc?n), R01 MH096773 (Fair), and R00MH091238 (Fair).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ireland Ltd


  • Functional connectivity
  • Limbic
  • Resting state
  • Risk
  • fMRI


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