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. 2015 May 21;8:398-407.
doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2015.05.004. eCollection 2015.

Functional and Structural Brain Correlates of Risk for Major Depression in Children With Familial Depression

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Free PMC article

Functional and Structural Brain Correlates of Risk for Major Depression in Children With Familial Depression

Xiaoqian J Chai et al. Neuroimage Clin. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Despite growing evidence for atypical amygdala function and structure in major depression, it remains uncertain as to whether these brain differences reflect the clinical state of depression or neurobiological traits that predispose individuals to major depression. We examined function and structure of the amygdala and associated areas in a group of unaffected children of depressed parents (at-risk group) and a group of children of parents without a history of major depression (control group). Compared to the control group, the at-risk group showed increased activation to fearful relative to neutral facial expressions in the amygdala and multiple cortical regions, and decreased activation to happy relative to neutral facial expressions in the anterior cingulate cortex and supramarginal gyrus. At-risk children also exhibited reduced amygdala volume. The extensive hyperactivation to negative facial expressions and hypoactivation to positive facial expressions in at-risk children are consistent with behavioral evidence that risk for major depression involves a bias to attend to negative information. These functional and structural brain differences between at-risk children and controls suggest that there are trait neurobiological underpinnings of risk for major depression.

Keywords: Amygdala volume; Children; Emotional faces; Familial risk; Major depression; fMRI.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Brain areas with higher activations for fearful faces > neutral faces in the at-risk group compared to the control group. a, Amygdala; b, superior temporal gyrus; c, anterior prefrontal cortex (BA10); d, posterior cingulate cortex; e, precuneus. Results are presented in neurological convention in all figures (left side of the brain is on the left side of the image).
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
Brain areas with higher activations for fearful faces compared to neutral faces within each group. A) At-risk group, B) control group. a, Amygdala; b, middle frontal gyrus; c, posterior cingulate cortex; d, superior temporal gyrus; e, precuneus; f, inferior temporal gyrus; g, superior temporal gyrus.
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
Total numbers of active voxels for the fearful faces > neutral faces and happy faces > neutral faces contrasts in each group.
Fig. 4
Fig. 4
Brain areas with higher activations for happy faces > neutral faces in control group compared to the at-risk group. a, Anterior cingulate cortex; b, supramarginal gyrus; c, superior prefrontal gyrus.
Fig. 5
Fig. 5
Brain areas with higher activations for happy faces compared to neutral faces within each group. A) At-risk group, B) control group. a, Superior temporal gyrus; b, anterior cingulate cortex; c, posterior cingulate cortex; d, supramarginal gyrus; e, middle prefrontal gyrus.
Fig. 6
Fig. 6
Activations in anatomically defined amygdala ROI (bilateral) for each trial type. Bars represent mean activations for each trial type within each group. Error bars represent standard errors of the mean.
Fig. 7
Fig. 7
Mean amygdala volume (adjusted for whole brain volume) in each group. Error bars represent standard errors of the mean.

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