The neurobiology of self-processing in abused depressed adolescents

Karina Quevedo, Rowena NG, Hannah Scott, Garry Smyda, Jennifer H. Pfeifer, Sandra Malone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Maltreatment is associated with chronic depression, high negative self-attributions, and lifetime psychopathology. Adolescence is a sensitive period for the formation of self-concept. Identifying neurobiomarkers of self-processing in depressed adolescents with and without maltreatment may parse the effects of trauma and depression on self-development and chronic psychopathology. Depressed adolescents (n = 86) maltreated due to omission (DO, n = 13) or commission (DCM, n = 28) or without maltreatment (DC, n = 45), and HCs (HC, n = 37) appraised positive and negative self-descriptors in the scanner. DCM and DO showed hypoactivity in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) while processing positive versus negative self-descriptors compared to DC youth, who in turn showed reduced dACC recruitment versus HC. HC youth showed the highest activation in the dACC and striatum during positive self-descriptors; these regions showed a linear decline in activity across DC, DO, and DCM. Low dACC activity to positive versus negative self-descriptors was linked to inadequate coregulation of children's emotions by parents. Negative self-cognitions prevalent in DCM and DO adolescents may be perpetuated by activity in the dACC and striatum. Reduced activation of the dACC and striatum for positive self-descriptors, coupled with enhanced activity for negative self-descriptors, may heighten the risk for persistent depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1057-1073
Number of pages17
JournalDevelopment and psychopathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Grant K01MH092601 from the NIMH and a NARSAD award (to K.Q.) and an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (00039202 to R.N.). We thank Dr. Kathleen Thomas, mentor of the first and second authors.

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2016.


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