Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2016 Dec;11(12):1961-1969.
doi: 10.1093/scan/nsw100. Epub 2016 Oct 3.

Neural Correlates of Three Types of Negative Life Events During Angry Face Processing in Adolescents

Free PMC article

Neural Correlates of Three Types of Negative Life Events During Angry Face Processing in Adolescents

Fanny Gollier-Briant et al. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. .
Free PMC article


Negative life events (NLE) contribute to anxiety and depression disorders, but their relationship with brain functioning in adolescence has rarely been studied. We hypothesized that neural response to social threat would relate to NLE in the frontal-limbic emotional regions. Participants (N = 685) were drawn from the Imagen database of 14-year-old community adolescents recruited in schools. They underwent functional MRI while viewing angry and neutral faces, as a probe to neural response to social threat. Lifetime NLEs were assessed using the 'distress', 'family' and 'accident' subscales from a life event dimensional questionnaire. Relationships between NLE subscale scores and neural response were investigated. Links of NLE subscales scores with anxiety or depression outcomes at the age of 16 years were also investigated. Lifetime 'distress' positively correlated with ventral-lateral orbitofrontal and temporal cortex activations during angry face processing. 'Distress' scores correlated with the probabilities of meeting criteria for Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Major Depressive Disorder at the age of 16 years. Lifetime 'family' and 'accident' scores did not relate with neural response or follow-up conditions, however. Thus, different types of NLEs differentially predicted neural responses to threat during adolescence, and differentially predicted a de novo internalizing condition 2 years later. The deleterious effect of self-referential NLEs is suggested.

Keywords: adolescence; anxiety; depression; fMRI; negative life events; social threat.


Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.
(A) Face task. Blocks of videos with faces turning from neutral to angry expression or staying neutral intercalated with blocks of control stimuli. Printed with permission from Grosbras and Paus (2006). (B). F test. Statistical parametric map showing significant neural response during the ‘angry vs neutral’ comparison of the Face task in 685 healthy adolescents (P < 0.05, family-wise error (FWE) corrected for multiple tests and a cluster size >200 voxels). Color bar indicates F values. (C) Clusters of voxels (detailed in Table 2) where correlations were detected between the lifetime ‘distress’ NLE mean scores and the t-statistic activation maps during the contrast ‘angry minus neutral’. (D) Correlation plot between the lifetime ‘distress’ NLE scores and neural response at the peak voxel MNI (Montreal Neurological Institute) coordinates within the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (PFWE = 0.005).

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 2 articles