Neural substrates for processing task-irrelevant emotional distracters in maltreated adolescents with depressive disorders: A pilot study

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA.
Journal of Traumatic Stress (Impact Factor: 2.72). 04/2012; 25(2):198-202. DOI: 10.1002/jts.21682
Source: PubMed


In this pilot study, neural systems related to cognitive and emotional processing were examined using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging in 5 maltreated youth with depressive disorders and 11 nonmaltreated healthy participants. Subjects underwent an emotional oddball task, where they detected infrequent ovals (targets) within a continual stream of phase-scrambled images (standards). Sad and neutral images were intermittently presented as task-irrelevant distracters. The maltreated youth revealed significantly decreased activation in the left middle frontal gyrus and right precentral gyrus to target stimuli and significantly increased activation to sad stimuli in bilateral amygdala, left subgenual cingulate, left inferior frontal gyrus, and right middle temporal cortex compared to nonmaltreated subjects. Additionally, the maltreated youth showed significantly decreased activation to both attentional targets and sad distracters in the left posterior middle frontal gyrus compared to nonmaltreated subjects. In this exploratory study of dorsal control and ventral emotional circuits, we found that maltreated youth with distress disorders demonstrated dysfunction of neural systems related to cognitive control and emotional processing.

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    • "These studies show that adults with PTSD secondary to child maltreatment demonstrated hypoactivation of the prefrontal cortical regions and associated regulatory executive and attentional functions, and hyperactivation of the affective emotional circuits (that include amygdala and hippocampus) in response to aversive stimuli (Bremner et al., 1999, 2005; Shin et al., 1999). Limited neuroimaging studies on maltreated youth also suggest dysregulation in executive attentional and inhibitory circuits and hyperactivation of the affective emotional circuits involving the hippocampus and amygdala (Carrion, Garrett, Menon, Weems, & Reiss, 2008; De Bellis & Hooper, 2012; Maheu et al., 2010; Mueller et al., 2010; Tottenham et al., 2011). Thus, maltreatment as seen through a static developmental traumatology PTSD mechanism can theoretically lead to specific impairments in prefrontal executive functions and memory in accord with this psychobiological model of PTSD. "
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    ABSTRACT: Maltreated (n = 38), maltreated + posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; n = 60), and control youth (n = 104) underwent comprehensive neuropsychological testing. The two maltreated groups performed significantly lower on IQ, academic achievement, and nearly all of the neurocognitive domains than controls. Maltreated + PTSD performed significantly worse than maltreated youth without PTSD on a task in the visuospatial domain that assessed higher order visuoconstructive abilities. No group differences were evident on the fine motor domain. PTSD diagnosis duration negatively correlated with the visuospatial, and dissociation negatively correlated with the attention domain. Cumulative lifetime maltreatment types experienced negatively correlated with academic achievement. Sexual abuse negatively correlated with language and memory functions after controlling for other maltreatment types. These data support the adverse effects of maltreatment on neuropsychological functions in youth and suggest that all child protective services identified youth should be comprehensively examined for the integrity of their neuropsychological functioning and academic skills, regardless of the presence or absence of mental health symptoms.
    Child Maltreatment 07/2013; 18(3). DOI:10.1177/1077559513497420 · 2.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The development of socioemotional functioning is a complex process that occurs over a protracted time period and requires coordinating affective, cognitive, and social faculties. At many points in development, the trajectory of socioemotional development can be deleteriously altered due to a combination of environmental insults and individual vulnerabilities. The result can be psychopathology. However, researchers are just beginning to understand the neural and genetic mechanisms involved in the development of healthy and disordered socioemotional functioning. We propose a translational developmental neuroscience framework to understand the transactional process that results in socioemotional functioning in both healthy and disordered populations. We then apply this framework to healthy socioemotional development, pediatric anxiety, pediatric depression, and autism spectrum disorder, selectively reviewing current literature in light of the framework. Finally, we examine ways that the framework can help to frame future directions of research on socioemotional development and translational implications for intervention.
    Development and Psychopathology 11/2013; 25(4 Pt 2):1293-309. DOI:10.1017/S095457941300062X · 4.89 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We investigated the relationship of gender to cognitive and affective processing in maltreated youth with posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Maltreated (N = 29, 13 females, 16 males) and nonmaltreated participants (N = 45, 26 females, 19 males) performed an emotional oddball task that involved detection of targets with fear or scrambled face distractors. Results were moderated by gender. During the executive component of this task, left precuneus/posterior middle cingulate hypoactivation to fear versus calm or scrambled face targets were seen in maltreated versus control males and may represent dysfunction and less resilience in attentional networks. Maltreated males also showed decreased activation in the inferior frontal gyrus compared to control males. No differences were found in females. Posterior cingulate activations positively correlated with posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. While viewing fear faces, maltreated females exhibited decreased activity in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and cerebellum I-VI, whereas maltreated males exhibited increased activity in the left hippocampus, fusiform cortex, right cerebellar crus I, and visual cortex compared to their same-gender controls. Gender by maltreatment effects were not attributable to demographic, clinical, or maltreatment parameters. Maltreated girls and boys exhibited distinct patterns of neural activations during executive and affective processing, a new finding in the maltreatment literature.
    Development and Psychopathology 03/2014; 26(2):1-23. DOI:10.1017/S095457941400008X · 4.89 Impact Factor
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