While major depressive disorder has been shown to be a significant mental health issue for school-age children, recent research indicates that depression can be observed in children as early as the preschool period. Yet, little work has been done to explore the neurobiological factors associated with this early form of depression. Given research suggesting a relation between adult depression and anomalies in emotion-related neural circuitry, the goal of the current study was to elucidate changes in functional activation during negative mood induction and emotion regulation in school-age children with a history of preschool-onset depression. The results suggest that a history of depression during the preschool period is associated with decreased activity in prefrontal cortex during mood induction and regulation. Moreover, the severity of current depressed mood was associated with increased activity in limbic regions, such as the amygdala, particularly in children with a history of depression. Similar to results observed in adult depression, the current findings indicate disruptions in emotion-related neural circuitry associated with preschool-onset depression.
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