Cortical structure abnormalities in females with conduct disorder prior to age 15

Psychiatry Res Neuroimaging. 2019 Jul 30:289:37-44. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2018.12.004. Epub 2018 Dec 6.


Among females, conduct disorder (CD) before age 15 is associated with multiple adverse outcomes in adulthood. The few existing structural neuroimaging studies of females with CD report abnormalities of gray matter volumes. The present study compared cortical thickness and surface area of young women with childhood/adolescent CD and healthy women to determine whether cortical abnormalities were present in adulthood and whether they were related to prior CD. Structural brain images from 31 women with CD and 25 healthy women were analyzed using FreeSurfer. Group differences between cortical thickness and surface area were assessed using cluster-wise corrections with Monte Carlo simulations. Women with prior CD, relative to healthy women, showed: (1) reduced cortical thickness in left fusiform gyrus extending up to entorhinal cortex and lingual gyrus; (2) reduced surface area in right superior parietal cortex; (3) increased surface area in left superior temporal gyrus, and right precentral gyrus. These differences remained significant after adjusting for past comorbid disorders, current symptoms of anxiety and depression, current substance use as well as maltreatment. The study suggests that among females, CD prior to age 15 is associated with cortical structure abnormalities in brain regions involved in emotion processing and social interaction.

Keywords: Conduct disorder; Cortical thickness; Freesurfer; Fusiform gyrus; Structural MRI; Surface area.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Child Abuse
  • Conduct Disorder / diagnostic imaging
  • Conduct Disorder / pathology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Young Adult