OBJECTIVE: Child abuse exerts a deleterious impact on a broad array of mental health outcomes. However, the neurobiological mechanisms that mediate this association remain poorly characterized. Here, we use a longitudinal design to prospectively identify neural mediators of the association between child abuse and psychiatric disorders in a community sample of adolescents. METHOD: Structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data and assessments of mental health were acquired for 51 adolescents (aged 13-20; M=16.96; SD=1.51), 19 of whom were exposed to physical or sexual abuse. Participants were assessed for abuse exposure (time 1), participated in MRI scanning and a diagnostic structured interview (time 2), and 2 years later were followed-up to assess psychopathology (time 3). We examined associations between child abuse and neural structure, and identified whether abuse-related differences in neural structure prospectively predicted psychiatric symptoms. RESULTS: Abuse was associated with reduced cortical thickness in medial and lateral prefrontal and temporal lobe regions. Thickness of the left and right parahippocampal gyrus predicted antisocial behavior symptoms, and thickness of the middle temporal gyrus predicted symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Thickness of the left parahippocampal gyrus mediated the longitudinal association of abuse with antisocial behavior. CONCLUSION: Child abuse is associated with widespread disruptions in cortical structure, and these disruptions are selectively associated with increased vulnerability to internalizing and externalizing psychopathology. Identifying predictive biomarkers of vulnerability following childhood maltreatment may uncover neurodevelopmental mechanisms linking environmental experience with the onset of psychopathology.
Background Although childhood adversities are known to predict increased risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after traumatic experiences, it is unclear whether this association varies by childhood adversity or traumatic experience types or by age. Aims To examine variation in associations of childhood adversities with PTSD according to childhood adversity types, traumatic experience types and life-course stage. Method Epidemiological data were analysed from the World Mental Health Surveys (n = 27 017). Results Four childhood adversities (physical and sexual abuse, neglect, parent psychopathology) were associated with similarly increased odds of PTSD following traumatic experiences (odds ratio (OR) = 1.8), whereas the other eight childhood adversities assessed did not predict PTSD. Childhood adversity–PTSD associations did not vary across traumatic experience types, but were stronger in childhood–adolescence and early-middle adulthood than later adulthood. Conclusions Childhood adversities are differentially associated with PTSD, with the strongest associations in childhood–adolescence and early-middle adulthood. Consistency of associations across traumatic experience types suggests that childhood adversities are associated with generalised vulnerability to PTSD following traumatic experiences.
Child maltreatment is associated with increased risk of an array of mental and physical health problems. We reviewed studies examining associations of child maltreatment, assessed either alone or in combination with other adversities, with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type 2 diabetes. A search was conducted in PubMed for relevant studies until December 2015. Forty publications met inclusion criteria. Consistent positive associations were noted across a range of childhood adversities. Child maltreatment was associated with CVD (myocardial infarction, stroke, ischemic heart disease, coronary heart disease) in 91.7% of studies, with diabetes in 88.2% of studies, and with blood pressure/hypertension in 61.5% of studies. Inclusion of mental disorders tended to attenuate associations. Sex-related differences were under-examined. Implications for future research and intervention efforts are discussed.
When providing mental health services to adults, we are often treating individuals who, among their other roles, are also parents. The goal of this article was to provide practitioners with the state of the science about both the impact of parental psychopathology on children and the role that children's well-being has in parental psychopathology. We discuss the benefits of integrated care for adult clients who are parents, as well as the barriers to providing integrated care for both parents and children in psychotherapy, and provide recommendations for practice. With this information, practitioners will gain greater awareness of their opportunities to treat adults in their parenting roles as well as to contribute to prevention of mental disorders in children.
The human brain is remarkably plastic. The brain changes dramatically across development, with ongoing functional development continuing well into the third decade of life and substantial changes occurring again in older age. Dynamic changes in brain function are thought to underlie the innumerable changes in cognition, emotion, and behavior that occur across development. The brain also changes in response to experience, which raises important questions about how the environment influences the developing brain. Longitudinal functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies are an essential means of understanding these developmental changes and their cognitive, emotional, and behavioral correlates. This paper provides an overview of common statistical models of longitudinal change applicable to developmental cognitive neuroscience, and a review of the functionality provided by major software packages for longitudinal fMRI analysis. We demonstrate that there are important developmental questions that cannot be answered using available software. We propose alternative approaches for addressing problems that are commonly faced in modeling developmental change with fMRI data.
Research on childhood adversity has traditionally focused on single types of adversity, which is limited because of high co-occurrence, or on the total number of adverse experiences, which assumes that diverse experiences influence development similarly. Identifying dimensions of environmental experience that are common to multiple types of adversity may be a more effective strategy. We examined the unique associations of two such dimensions (threat and cognitive deprivation) with automatic emotion regulation and cognitive control using a multivariate approach that simultaneously examined both dimensions of adversity. Data were drawn from a community sample of adolescents (N = 287) with variability in exposure to violence, an indicator of threat, and poverty, which is associated with cognitive deprivation. Adolescents completed tasks measuring automatic emotion regulation and cognitive control in neutral and emotional contexts. Violence was associated with automatic emotion regulation deficits, but not cognitive control; poverty was associated with poor cognitive control, but not automatic emotion regulation. Both violence and poverty predicted poor inhibition in an emotional context. Utilizing an approach focused on either single types of adversity or cumulative risk obscured specificity in the associations of violence and poverty with emotional and cognitive outcomes. These findings suggest that different dimensions of childhood adversity have distinct influences on development and highlight the utility of a differentiated multivariate approach.
Social anxiety and depression are common mental health problems among adolescents and are frequently comorbid. Primary aims of this study were to (1) elucidate the nature of individual differences in specific emotion regulation deficits among adolescents with symptoms of social anxiety and depression, and (2) determine whether repetitive negative thinking (RNT) functions as a transdiagnostic factor. A diverse sample of adolescents (N = 1065) completed measures assessing emotion regulation and symptoms of social anxiety and depression. Results indicated that adolescents with high levels of social anxiety and depression symptoms reported decreased emotional awareness, dysregulated emotion expression, and reduced use of emotion management strategies. The hypothesized structural model in which RNT functions as a transdiagnostic factor exhibited a better fit than an alternative model in which worry and rumination function as separate predictors of symptomatology. Findings implicate emotion regulation deficits and RNT in the developmental psychopathology of youth anxiety and mood disorders.
\textlessp\textgreaterNook et al. show that emotion concept representations develop from a monodimensional focus on positive versus negative valence in childhood to multidimensional organization in adulthood. This expansion is facilitated by increasing verbal knowledge.\textless/p\textgreater
Environmental contributions are thought to play a primary role in the familial aggregation of anxiety, but parenting influences remain poorly understood. We examined dynamic relations between maternal anxiety, maternal emotion regulation (ER) during child distress, maternal accommodation of child distress, and child anxiety. Mothers (N=45) of youth ages 3–8 years (M=4.8) participated in an experimental task during which they listened to a standardized audio recording of a child in anxious distress pleading for parental intervention. Measures of maternal and child anxiety, mothers’ affective states, mothers’ ER strategies during the child distress, and maternal accommodation of child anxiety were collected. Mothers’ resting respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) reactivity during the recording was also acquired. Higher maternal negative affect and greater maternal ER switching (i.e., using multiple ER strategies in a short time without positive regulatory results) during child distress were associated with child anxiety. Sequential mediation modeling showed that maternal anxiety predicted ineffective maternal ER during child distress exposure, which in turn predicted greater maternal accommodation, which in turn predicted higher child anxiety. Findings support the mediating roles of maternal ER and accommodation in linking maternal and child anxiety, and suggest that ineffective maternal ER and subsequent attempts to accommodate child distress may act as mechanisms underlying the familial aggregation of anxiety.
Parasympathetic nervous system influences on cardiac functions-commonly indexed via respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA)-are central to self-regulation. RSA suppression during challenging emotional and cognitive tasks is often associated with better emotional and behavioral functioning in preschoolers. However, the links between RSA suppression and child behavior across various challenging interpersonal contexts remains unclear. The present study experimentally evaluated the relationship between child RSA reactivity to adult (mother vs. study staff) direction and disruptive behavior problems in children ages 3-8 with varying levels of disruptive behavior problems (N = 43). Reduced RSA suppression in the context of mothers' play-based direction was associated with more severe child behavior problems. In contrast, RSA suppression in the context of staff play-based direction was not associated with behavior problems. Findings suggest that the association between RSA suppression and child behavior problems may vary by social context (i.e., mother vs. other adult direction-givers). Findings are discussed in regard to RSA as an indicator of autonomic self-regulation that has relevance to child disruptive behavior problems.
Despite calls to incorporate population science into neuroimaging research, most studies recruit small, non-representative samples. Here, we examine whether sample composition influences age-related variation in global measurements of gray matter volume, thickness, and surface area. We apply sample weights to structural brain imaging data from a community-based sample of children aged 3-18 (N = 1162) to create a "weighted sample" that approximates the distribution of socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, and sex in the U.S. Census. We compare associations between age and brain structure in this weighted sample to estimates from the original sample with no sample weights applied (i.e., unweighted). Compared to the unweighted sample, we observe earlier maturation of cortical and sub-cortical structures, and patterns of brain maturation that better reflect known developmental trajectories in the weighted sample. Our empirical demonstration of bias introduced by non-representative sampling in this neuroimaging cohort suggests that sample composition may influence understanding of fundamental neural processes.The influence of sample composition on human neuroimaging results is unknown. Here, the authors weight a large, community-based sample to better reflect the US population and describe how applying these sample weights changes conclusions about age-related variation in brain structure.
BACKGROUND: Earlier age of pubertal maturation in females is associated with increased risk for mental health problems in adolescence, compared with on-time or later maturation. However, most investigations of pubertal timing and mental health consider risk for individual disorders and fail to account for comorbidity. A latent-modeling approach using a large, nationally representative sample could better explain the transdiagnostic nature of the consequences of early-onset puberty. METHODS: Data on age of menarche and mental disorders were drawn from a population-representative sample of adolescents (n=4925), ages 13-17. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to fit four latent disorder categories: distress, eating, and externalizing, and fear disorders. Timing of menarche included those with earlier (age<=10, age 11) and later age of onset (age 13, 14+), relative to those with average timing of menarche (age 12). Associations between timing of menarche and latent disorders were estimated in a structural equation model (SEM), adjusted for age, income, race, parent marital status, BMI, and childhood adversity. RESULTS: The measurement model evidenced acceptable fit (CFI=0.91; RMSEA=0.02). Onset of menarche before age 11 was significantly associated with distress disorders (coefficient=0.096; p\textless0.0001), fear disorders (coefficient=0.09; p\textless0.0001), and externalizing disorders (coefficient=0.039; p=0.049) as compared to on-time or late menarche. No residual associations of early menarche with individual disorders over and above the latent disorders were observed. CONCLUSION: The latent modeling approach illuminated meaningful transdiagnostic psychiatric associations with early timing of menarche. Biological processes initiated at puberty can influence cognitive and affective processes as well as social relationships for adolescents. Under developmentally normative conditions, these changes may be adaptive. However, for those out of sync with their peers, researchers and clinicians should recognize the potential for these processes to influence liability to a broad array of psychopathological consequences in adolescence.
OBJECTIVE: Exposure to violence and other forms of potentially traumatic events (PTEs) are common among youths with externalizing psychopathology. These associations likely reflect both heightened risk for the onset of externalizing problems in youth exposed to PTEs and elevated risk for experiencing PTEs among youth with externalizing disorders. In this study, we disaggregate the associations between exposure to PTEs and externalizing disorder onset in a population-representative sample of adolescents. METHOD: We analyzed data from 13- to 18-year-old participants in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A) (N = 6,379). Weighted survival models estimated hazard ratios (HRs) for onset of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD), and substance use disorders (SUDs) associated with PTEs, and for exposure to PTEs associated with prior-onset externalizing disorders. Multiplicative interaction terms tested for effect modification by sex, race/ethnicity, and household income. RESULTS: All types of PTEs were associated with higher risk for SUD (HRs = 1.29-2.21), whereas only interpersonal violence (HR = 2.49) was associated with onset of CD and only among females. No associations were observed for ODD. Conversely, ODD and CD were associated with elevated risk for later exposure to interpersonal violence and other/nondisclosed events (HRs = 1.45-1.75). CONCLUSION: Externalizing disorders that typically begin in adolescence, including SUDs and CD, are more likely to emerge in adolescents with prior trauma. ODD onset, in contrast, is unrelated to trauma exposure but is associated with elevated risk of experiencing trauma later in development. CD and interpersonal violence exposure exhibit reciprocal associations. These findings have implications for interventions targeting externalizing and trauma-related psychopathology.
Heterotypic continuity, whereby individuals transition from one disorder to another, is common; however, longitudinal studies examining transdiagnostic predictors of heterotypic continuity are lacking. The current study examined whether trauma exposure during childhood (maltreatment) and adulthood (interpersonal and non-interpersonal trauma) is associated with heterotypic continuity in a national sample. Men and women (N = 34,653) who participated in Waves 1 (2001-2002) and 2 (2004-2005) of the National Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) completed face-to-face interviews about trauma exposure and psychopathology. Risk ratios and population attributable risk proportions (PARPs) quantified the effects of childhood maltreatment and interpersonal and non-interpersonal trauma exposure between Waves 1 and 2 on risk for incident disorders and transitions between specific types of disorders. Twenty percent of respondents reported a Wave 2 incident disorder. Those with any Wave 1 disorder were at increased risk of incident mood (RR range = 1.2-2.1) and anxiety (RR = 1.5-2.7) disorders at Wave 2. Child maltreatment and interpersonal trauma exposure since Wave 1 were associated with roughly 50% of the risk for disorder transitions (RR range = 1.2-2.7); non-interpersonal trauma was associated with 30% of the risk for disorder transitions (RR range = 1.0-1.7). Findings suggest that new onset disorders were common in U.S. adults and trauma exposure explained a large proportion of disorder incidence as well as progression from one disorder to another. Universal prevention efforts that begin early in life, rather than those targeted at specific disorders, would be fruitful for reducing the burden of population mental health and preventing a cascade of mental disorders over the life course.
BACKGROUND: Considerable research has documented that exposure to traumatic events has negative effects on physical and mental health. Much less research has examined the predictors of traumatic event exposure. Increased understanding of risk factors for exposure to traumatic events could be of considerable value in targeting preventive interventions and anticipating service needs. METHOD: General population surveys in 24 countries with a combined sample of 68 894 adult respondents across six continents assessed exposure to 29 traumatic event types. Differences in prevalence were examined with cross-tabulations. Exploratory factor analysis was conducted to determine whether traumatic event types clustered into interpretable factors. Survival analysis was carried out to examine associations of sociodemographic characteristics and prior traumatic events with subsequent exposure. RESULTS: Over 70% of respondents reported a traumatic event; 30.5% were exposed to four or more. Five types - witnessing death or serious injury, the unexpected death of a loved one, being mugged, being in a life-threatening automobile accident, and experiencing a life-threatening illness or injury - accounted for over half of all exposures. Exposure varied by country, sociodemographics and history of prior traumatic events. Being married was the most consistent protective factor. Exposure to interpersonal violence had the strongest associations with subsequent traumatic events. CONCLUSIONS: Given the near ubiquity of exposure, limited resources may best be dedicated to those that are more likely to be further exposed such as victims of interpersonal violence. Identifying mechanisms that account for the associations of prior interpersonal violence with subsequent trauma is critical to develop interventions to prevent revictimization.
Background Young children raised in institutions are exposed to extreme psychosocial deprivation that is associated with elevated risk for psychopathology and other adverse developmental outcomes. The prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is particularly high in previously institutionalized children, yet the mechanisms underlying this association are poorly understood. We investigated whether deficits in executive functioning (EF) explain the link between institutionalization and ADHD. Method A sample of 136 children (aged 6–30 months) was recruited from institutions in Bucharest, Romania, and 72 never institutionalized community children matched for age and gender were recruited through general practitioners’ offices. At 8 years of age, children's performance on a number of EF components (working memory, response inhibition and planning) was evaluated. Teachers completed the Health and Behavior Questionnaire, which assesses two core features of ADHD, inattention and impulsivity. Results Children with history of institutionalization had higher inattention and impulsivity than community controls, and exhibited worse performance on working memory, response inhibition and planning tasks. Lower performances on working memory and response inhibition, but not planning, partially mediated the association between early institutionalization and inattention and impulsivity symptom scales at age 8 years. Conclusions Institutionalization was associated with decreased EF performance and increased ADHD symptoms. Deficits in working memory and response inhibition were specific mechanisms leading to ADHD in previously institutionalized children. These findings suggest that interventions that foster the development of EF might reduce risk for psychiatric problems in children exposed to early deprivation.
BACKGROUND: Evidence suggests that impulsive aggression and explosive anger are common among individuals with anxiety disorders; yet, the influence of intermittent explosive disorder (IED) on the onset, course, consequences, and patterns of comorbidity among those with anxiety disorders is unknown. METHODS: Data were drawn from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (N = 9,282) and Adolescent Supplement (N = 9,632), nationally representative surveys conducted between 2001 and 2004. Diagnoses were based on structured lay-administered interviews. Lifetime diagnoses were assessed with structured instruments. Outcomes included comorbidity, functional and role impairment, and treatment utilization. RESULTS: Adolescents with a lifetime anxiety disorder had a higher prevalence of a lifetime anger attacks (68.5%) and IED (22.9%) than adolescents without a lifetime anxiety disorder (48.6 and 7.8%, respectively), especially social phobia and panic disorders. Similar elevation was found for adults. Age of onset and course of anxiety disorders did not differ by IED. Severe functional impairment associated with anxiety was higher among adolescents (39.3%) and adults (45.7%) with IED than those without IED (29.2 and 28.2%, respectively). Comorbidity for all other disorders was elevated. However, individuals with anxiety disorders and IED were no more likely to use treatment services than those with anxiety disorders without IED. CONCLUSIONS: Individuals with IED concomitant to anxiety disorder, especially social phobia and panic, are at marked risk for worse functional impairment and a higher burden of comorbidity, but onset and course of anxiety disorder do not differ, and those with anxiety and IED are no more likely to utilize treatment services. Assessment, identification, and specialized treatment of anger in the context of anxiety disorders are critical to reducing burden.
Children who have experienced environmental adversity-such as abuse, neglect, or poverty-are more likely to develop physical and mental health problems, perform poorly at school, and have difficulties in social relationships than children who have not encountered adversity. What is less clear is how and why adverse early experiences exert such a profound influence on children's development. Identifying developmental processes that are disrupted by adverse early environments is the key to developing better intervention strategies for children who have experienced adversity. Yet, much existing research relies on a cumulative risk approach that is unlikely to reveal these mechanisms. This approach tallies the number of distinct adversities experienced to create a risk score. This risk score fails to distinguish between distinct types of environmental experience, implicitly assuming that very different experiences influence development through the same underlying mechanisms. We advance an alternative model. This novel approach conceptualizes adversity along distinct dimensions, emphasizes the central role of learning mechanisms, and distinguishes between different forms of adversity that might influence learning in distinct ways. A key advantage of this approach is that learning mechanisms provide clear targets for interventions aimed at preventing negative developmental outcomes in children who have experienced adversity.
Alterations in physiological reactivity to stress are argued to be central mechanisms linking adverse childhood environmental experiences to internalizing and externalizing psychopathology. Childhood trauma exposure may influence physiological reactivity to stress in distinct ways from other forms of childhood adversity. This study applied a novel theoretical model to investigate the impact of childhood trauma on cardiovascular stress reactivity - the biopsychosocial model of challenge and threat. This model suggests that inefficient cardiovascular responses to stress - a threat as opposed to challenge profile - are characterized by blunted cardiac output (CO) reactivity and increased vascular resistance. We examined whether childhood trauma exposure predicted an indicator of the threat profile of cardiovascular reactivity and whether such a pattern was associated with adolescent psychopathology in a population-representative sample of 488 adolescents (M=16.17years old, 49.2% boys) in the TRacking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey (TRAILS). Exposure to trauma was associated with both internalizing and externalizing symptoms and a pattern of cardiovascular reactivity consistent with the threat profile, including blunted CO reactivity during a social stress task. Blunted CO reactivity, in turn, was positively associated with externalizing, but not internalizing symptoms and mediated the link between trauma and externalizing psychopathology. None of these associations varied by gender. The biopsychosocial model of challenge and threat provides a novel theoretical framework for understanding disruptions in physiological reactivity to stress following childhood trauma exposure, revealing a potential pathway linking such exposure with externalizing problems in adolescents.