Deviations from normative brain white and gray matter structure are associated with psychopathology in youth

Dev Cogn Neurosci. 2022 Dec:58:101173. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2022.101173. Epub 2022 Nov 1.


Combining imaging modalities and metrics that are sensitive to various aspects of brain structure and maturation may help identify individuals that show deviations in relation to same-aged peers, and thus benefit early-risk-assessment for mental disorders. We used one timepoint multimodal brain imaging, cognitive, and questionnaire data from 1280 eight- to twenty-one-year-olds from the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort. We estimated age-related gray and white matter properties and estimated individual deviation scores using normative modeling. Next, we tested for associations between the estimated deviation scores, and with psychopathology domain scores and cognition. More negative deviations in DTI-based fractional anisotropy (FA) and the first principal eigenvalue of the diffusion tensor (L1) were associated with higher scores on psychosis positive and prodromal symptoms and general psychopathology. A more negative deviation in cortical thickness (CT) was associated with a higher general psychopathology score. Negative deviations in global FA, surface area, L1 and CT were also associated with poorer cognitive performance. No robust associations were found between the deviation scores based on CT and DTI. The low correlations between the different multimodal magnetic resonance imaging-based deviation scores suggest that psychopathological burden in adolescence can be mapped onto partly distinct neurobiological features.

Keywords: Adolescence; Brain imaging; Cognition; Normative modeling; Pnc; Psychopathology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anisotropy
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / pathology
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging / methods
  • Gray Matter / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders*
  • White Matter* / diagnostic imaging
  • White Matter* / pathology