Amygdala-frontal connectivity predicts internalizing symptom recovery among inpatient adolescents

J Affect Disord. 2018 Jan 1;225:453-459. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2017.08.064. Epub 2017 Aug 23.


Background: The possibility of using biological measures to predict the trajectory of symptoms among adolescent psychiatric inpatients has important implications. This study aimed to examine emotion regulation ability (measured via self-report) and a hypothesized proxy in resting-state functional connectivity [RSFC] between the amygdala and frontal brain regions as baseline predictors of internalizing symptom recovery during inpatient care.

Methods: 196 adolescents (61% female; Mage = 15.20; SD = 1.48) completed the Achenbach Brief Problem Monitor (BPM) each week during their inpatient care. RSFC (n = 45) and self-report data of emotion regulation (n = 196) were collected at baseline.

Results: The average internalizing symptom score at admission was high (α0 = 66.52), exceeding the BPM's clinical cut off score of 65. On average, internalizing symptom scores declined significantly, by 0.40 points per week (p = 0.004). While self-reported emotion regulation was associated with admission levels of internalizing problems, it did not predict change in symptoms. RSFC between left amygdala and left superior frontal gyrus was significantly associated with the intercept-higher connectivity was associated with higher internalizing at admission-and the slope- higher connectivity was associated with a more positive slope (i.e., less decline in symptoms). RSFC between the right amygdala and the left superior frontal gyrus was significantly, positively correlated with the slope parameter.

Conclusions: Results indicate the potential of biologically-based measures that can be developed further for personalized care in adolescent psychiatry.

Keywords: Adolescent; Emotion regulation; Inpatient; Internalizing; RSFC; Resting-state.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Amygdala / diagnostic imaging
  • Amygdala / pathology*
  • Anxiety / diagnostic imaging
  • Anxiety / pathology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Defense Mechanisms
  • Depression / diagnostic imaging
  • Depression / pathology*
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Frontal Lobe / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Prefrontal Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Prefrontal Cortex / pathology*