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Neurobiol Dis. 2013 Apr;52:38-48. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2012.06.012. Epub 2012 Jun 30.

Towards the study of functional brain development in depression: an Interactive Specialization approach.

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Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, MO, USA.


Depression is a significant and impairing mood disorder with onset possible as early as age 3 and into adulthood. Given this varying pattern of age of onset, identifying the relationship between brain development and depression across the lifespan has proven elusive. This review identifies some of the factors that may have limited the advancement of our knowledge in this area and discusses how synthesizing established models of depression and normative brain development may help to overcome them. More specifically, it is suggested that current neurobiological models of depression fail to account for the developmental variance associated with early neural network development and the potential influence of experience on this process. The utility of applying an established framework of normative brain development to this topic is described and its potential utility for conceptualizing the influence of depression on brain function across the life span is addressed. Future directions including longitudinal neuroimaging studies of early onset depression and groups at risk for this disorder are proposed.

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