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Brain Struct Funct. 2016 Jul;221(6):3013-25. doi: 10.1007/s00429-015-1085-9. Epub 2015 Jul 17.

Anxiety is related to indices of cortical maturation in typically developing children and adolescents.

Author information

  • 1Center for Human Development, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, MC 0115, La Jolla, CA, 92093, USA. enewman@ucsd.edu.
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA. enewman@ucsd.edu.
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.
  • 4Stein Institute for Research on Aging, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.
  • 5Multimodal Imaging Laboratory, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.
  • 6Department of Radiology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.
  • 7Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.
  • 8Center for Human Development, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, MC 0115, La Jolla, CA, 92093, USA.
  • 9Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.
  • 10Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.
  • 11Scripps Genomic Medicine, Scripps Translational Science Institute and Scripps Health, La Jolla, CA, USA.
  • 12Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology, Weil Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, USA.
  • 13Department of Medicine, University of Hawaii and Queen's Medical Center, Honolulu, HI, USA.
  • 14Department of Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
  • 15Department of Pediatrics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.
  • 16Department of Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.
  • 17Department of Pathology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.
  • 18Department of Pediatrics, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
  • 19Children's Hospital, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
  • 20Department of Neurology and Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, MA, USA.
  • 21Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
  • 22Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.
  • 23Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA, USA.
  • 24Department of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.

Abstract

Anxiety is a risk factor for many adverse neuropsychiatric and socioeconomic outcomes, and has been linked to functional and structural changes in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC). However, the nature of these differences, as well as how they develop in children and adolescents, remains poorly understood. More effective interventions to minimize the negative consequences of anxiety require better understanding of its neurobiology in children. Recent research suggests that structural imaging studies may benefit from clearly delineating between cortical surface area and thickness when examining these associations, as these distinct cortical phenotypes are influenced by different cellular mechanisms and genetic factors. The present study examined relationships between cortical surface area and thickness of the VMPFC and a self-report measure of anxiety (SCARED-R) in 287 youths aged 7-20 years from the Pediatric Imaging, Neurocognition, and Genetics (PING) study. Age and gender interactions were examined for significant associations in order to test for developmental differences. Cortical surface area and thickness were also examined simultaneously to determine whether they contribute independently to the prediction of anxiety. Anxiety was negatively associated with relative cortical surface area of the VMPFC as well as with global cortical thickness, but these associations diminished with age. The two cortical phenotypes contributed additively to the prediction of anxiety. These findings suggest that higher anxiety in children may be characterized by both delayed expansion of the VMPFC and an altered trajectory of global cortical thinning. Further longitudinal studies will be needed to confirm these findings.

KEYWORDS:

Anxiety; Brain development; Cortical surface area; Cortical thickness; Magnetic resonance imaging; Ventromedial prefrontal cortex

PMID:
26183468
PMCID:
PMC5064818
DOI:
10.1007/s00429-015-1085-9
[PubMed - in process]
Free PMC Article
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