Meta-analytical transdiagnostic neural correlates in common pediatric psychiatric disorders

Sci Rep. 2022 Mar 22;12(1):4909. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-08909-3.


In the last decades, neuroimaging studies have attempted to unveil the neurobiological markers underlying pediatric psychiatric disorders. Yet, the vast majority of neuroimaging studies still focus on a single nosological category, which limit our understanding of the shared/specific neural correlates between these disorders. Therefore, we aimed to investigate the transdiagnostic neural correlates through a novel and data-driven meta-analytical method. A data-driven meta-analysis was carried out which grouped similar experiments' topographic map together, irrespectively of nosological categories and task-characteristics. Then, activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis was performed on each group of experiments to extract spatially convergent brain regions. One hundred forty-seven experiments were retrieved (3124 cases compared to 3100 controls): 79 attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, 32 conduct/oppositional defiant disorder, 14 anxiety disorders, 22 major depressive disorders. Four significant groups of experiments were observed. Functional characterization suggested that these groups of aberrant brain regions may be implicated internally/externally directed processes, attentional control of affect, somato-motor and visual processes. Furthermore, despite that some differences in rates of studies involving major depressive disorders were noticed, nosological categories were evenly distributed between these four sets of regions. Our results may reflect transdiagnostic neural correlates of pediatric psychiatric disorders, but also underscore the importance of studying pediatric psychiatric disorders simultaneously rather than independently to examine differences between disorders.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity*
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Child
  • Depressive Disorder, Major* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Neuroimaging