Erika Forbes

Erika Forbes
University of Pittsburgh | Pitt · Department of Psychiatry

PhD

About

269
Publications
32,798
Reads
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10,526
Citations
Citations since 2017
114 Research Items
6272 Citations
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Introduction
My research investigates the role of neural reward circuitry in adolescent depression and related psychopathology. This includes typical development, using a developmental psychopathology approach, and multiple brain systems, using an clinical/affective neuroscience approach. I use fMRI, behavioral assays, EMA, and clinical assessment. Our newest project is an experimental TMS study in young adults with depression.
Additional affiliations
September 2002 - present
Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
January 2002 - December 2012
University of Pittsburgh
Education
August 1996 - May 2003
University of Pittsburgh
Field of study
  • Psychology
September 1987 - June 1991
Harvard University
Field of study
  • History & Literature

Publications

Publications (269)
Article
Full-text available
Cannabis use is common among adolescents and emerging adults and is associated with significant adverse consequences for a subset of users. Rates of use peak between the ages of 18–25, yet the neurobiological consequences for neural systems that are actively developing during this time remain poorly understood. In particular, cannabis exposure may...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Background Mind‐wandering has been linked to negative affect (NA) and depressive symptoms in adolescents. However, mind‐wandering is an extremely broad and heterogeneous cognitive construct. Some features of spontaneous thought may be related to increased NA, whereas others may improve affect, or have no emotional influence. We used ecolog...
Preprint
The goal of this study was to examine the relationship between real-world socioemotional measures and neural activation to parental criticism, a salient form of social threat for adolescents. This work could help us understand why heightened neural reactivity to social threat consistently emerges as a risk factor for internalizing psychopathology i...
Article
Purpose: We examined whether interindividual differences in naturalistic sleep patterns correlate with any deviations from typical brain aging. Methods: Our sample consisted of 251 participants without current psychiatric diagnoses (9-25 years; mean [standard deviation] = 17.4 ± 4.52 yr; 58% female) drawn from the Neuroimaging and Pediatric Slee...
Article
Anhedonia is a cardinal characteristic of depression which predicts worse treatment outcome and is among the most common residual symptoms following treatment. Behavioral Activation (BA) has been shown to be an effective treatment for depressed adults, and more recently, depressed adolescents. Given its emphasis on systematically and gradually incr...
Article
Depression is a common and debilitating psychiatric illness that typically emerges in adolescence and impacts mental, social, and academic well-being. Significant research has examined the biological factors implicated in adolescent depression, converging on the specific importance of altered dopamine neurotransmission and neural reward—including s...
Article
Background Sexual minority youth (SMY) are 3x more likely to experience depression than heterosexual peers. Minority stress theory posits that this association is explained by sexual orientation victimization, which acts as a stressor to impact depression. For those vulnerable to the effects of stress, victimization may worsen depression by alterin...
Article
Introduction Identification of neural markers associated with risk for manic symptoms is an important challenge for neuropsychiatric research. Previous work has highlighted the association between predisposition for mania/hypomania and elevated reward sensitivity. Elevated activity in the left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (L vlPFC) during reward...
Article
Pediatric anxiety disorders are characterized by potentiated threat responses and maladaptive emotion regulation (ER). The Late Positive Potential (LPP) is a neural index of heightened attention to emotional stimuli. Anxious individuals typically exhibit a larger LPP to unpleasant stimuli, but the LPP may also be blunted to unpleasant and pleasant...
Article
Poor sleep and anxiety disorders are highly comorbid in youth, and each predicts altered ventral striatum (VS) response to rewards, which may impact mental health risk. Contrasting evidence suggests previously reported negative associations between sleep health and VS response may be stronger or weaker in youth with anxiety, indicating sensitivity...
Article
Background Anhedonia is a core symptom of depression that predicts worse treatment outcomes. Dysfunction in neural reward circuits is thought to contribute to anhedonia. However, whether laboratory-based assessments of anhedonia and reward-related neural function translate to adolescents' subjective affective experiences in real-world contexts rema...
Article
Full-text available
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to be an efficacious treatment for youth anxiety, but we need to know more about the process of change. Affective network variability, or the “spread” of positive and negative emotions activated across a given time period, has been found to be positively associated with anxiety disorder symptomatolo...
Article
Research on pathophysiological mechanisms supporting anxiety development in youth has traditionally focused on the role of threat systems. However, emerging research suggests that the positive valence system (PVS) may also play a strong and unique role in the development and maintenance of anxiety during childhood and adolescence. To better underst...
Article
Excessive monitoring of one's performance is a characteristic of anxiety disorders that has been linked to alterations in implicit emotion regulation (ER), including elevations in neural measures of performance monitoring (i.e., error- and correct-related negativity; ERN and CRN). Elevations in ERN and CRN amplitudes have been reported consistently...
Article
The central goal of clinical psychology is to reduce the suffering caused by mental health conditions. Anxiety, mood, psychosis, substance use, personality, and other mental disorders impose an immense burden on global public health and the economy. Tackling this burden will require the development and dissemination of intervention strategies that...
Preprint
Background: Mind-wandering has been linked to negative affect and depressive symptoms in adolescents. However, mind-wandering is an extremely broad and heterogenous cognitive construct. Some features of spontaneous thought may be related to increased negative affect, whereas others may improve affect, or have no emotional influence. We used ecologi...
Article
Background A growing body of research has demonstrated that adolescent offspring of depressed parents show diminished responding in the ventral striatum to reward. More recent work has suggested that altered reward responding may emerge earlier than adolescence in offspring at familial risk for depression, although factors associated with neural al...
Article
Objective: The goal of this study was to examine whether neural sensitivity to negative peer evaluation conveys risk for depression among youth with a history of anxiety. We hypothesized that brain activation in regions that process affective salience in response to rejection, relative to acceptance, from virtual peers would predict depressive sym...
Article
Adolescence is a period of plasticity in neural substrates underpinning self-processing. Such substrates are worth studying in depressed youth at risks for suicide because altered neurobiology of self -processing might partially explain differences between suicide attempting versus youth who contemplate but do not attempted suicide. Understanding a...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction Emotions typically emerge in interpersonal contexts, but the neural circuitry involved remains insufficiently understood. Two key features of interpersonal contexts are interpersonal interactions (e.g., supportive physical touch serving as a form of social regulation) and interpersonal traits. Social regulation research has predominate...
Article
Background : Anhedonia has long been theorized to be a multidimensional construct, focusing on domains of reward stimuli and temporal relationship to reward. However, little empirical work has directly examined whether there is support for this assertion. Methods : The study used data from young adults from four independent samples (n = 2098). Par...
Preprint
The central goal of clinical psychology is to reduce the suffering caused by mental health conditions. Anxiety, depression, psychosis, substance use, personality, and other mental disorders impose an immense burden on global public health and the economy. Tackling this burden will require the development and dissemination of intervention strategies...
Article
Full-text available
Although there has been growing interest in mood-related neural alterations in women in the initial weeks postpartum, recent work has demonstrated that postpartum depression often lingers for months or years following birth. However, research evaluating the impact of depression on maternal brain function during mother-infant interactions in the lat...
Article
Anhedonia is a transdiagnostic symptom of psychopathology that includes diminished positive emotions and anticipation and enjoyment of reward, with particular salience during adolescence. However, the construct validity of anhedonia dimensions is not well established, thus limiting operationalization and generalization of the construct. We applied...
Preprint
Background: Anhedonia is a core symptom of depression that predicts worse treatment outcomes. Dysfunction in neural reward circuits is thought to contribute to anhedonia. However, it remains unclear whether laboratory-based assessments of anhedonia and reward-related neural function translate to adolescents' subjective affective experiences in real...
Article
Study Objectives Structural brain maturation and sleep are complex processes that exhibit significant changes over adolescence and are linked to many physical and mental health outcomes. We investigated whether sleep-gray matter relationships are developmentally-invariant (i.e., stable across age) or developmentally-specific (i.e., only present dur...
Article
Full-text available
Heart rate variability (HRV) is an important biomarker for parasympathetic function and future health outcomes. The present study examined how the structure of regions in a neural network thought to maintain top–down control of parasympathetic function is associated with HRV during both rest and social stress. Participants were 127 young women (90...
Article
Full-text available
While expanded use of neuroimaging seemed promising to elucidate typical and atypical elements of social sensitivity, in many ways progress in this space has stalled. This is in part due to a disconnection between neurobiological measurements and behavior outside of the laboratory. The present study uses a developmentally salient fMRI computer task...
Article
Background Sleep and circadian timing shifts later during adolescence, conflicting with early school start times, and resulting in circadian misalignment. Although circadian misalignment has been linked to depression, substance use, and altered reward function, a paucity of experimental studies precludes the determination of causality. Here we test...
Article
Negative emotional experiences can be more difficult to forget than neutral ones, a phenomenon termed the "emotional memory effect." Individual differences in the strength of the emotional memory effect are associated with emotional health. Thus, understanding the neurobiological underpinnings of the emotional memory effect has important implicatio...
Preprint
Objective: The goal of this study was to examine whether neural sensitivity to peer rejection, a potent form of social evaluative threat in adolescence, conveys risk for depression among anxious youth. We hypothesized that brain activation in regions that process affective salience in response to rejection from virtual peers would predict depressiv...
Article
Full-text available
Background : The use of functional neuroimaging has been an extremely fruitful avenue for investigating the neural basis of human reward function. This approach has included identification of potential neurobiological mechanisms of psychiatric disease and examination of environmental, experiential, and biological factors that may contribute to dise...
Article
Objective: Identifying neural correlates of response to psychological treatment may inform targets for interventions designed to treat psychiatric disorders. This study examined the extent to which baseline functioning in reward circuitry is associated with response to psychotherapy in youths with anxiety disorders. Methods: A randomized clinica...
Preprint
Importance: Structural brain maturation and sleep are complex processes that exhibit significant changes over adolescence and are linked to healthy physical and mental development. The precise timing and magnitude of these changes influence function throughout the lifespan. However, the relationships between gray matter structure and sleep patterns...
Article
Objective Trauma exposure is associated with a more severe, persistent course of affective and anxiety symptoms. Markers of reward neural circuitry function, specifically activation to reward prediction error[RPE], are impacted by trauma and predict future course of affective symptoms. This study’s purpose was to determine how lifetime trauma expos...
Article
Maternal depression is associated with disrupted responsiveness during mother–infant dyadic interactions. Less research has evaluated whether responsivity between mother and offspring is altered in interactions during the preschool years, a period of vast socio‐emotional development. In the current study, 72 mothers and preschoolers engaged in a po...
Article
COVID-19 presents significant social, economic, and medical challenges. Because COVID-19 has already begun to precipitate huge increases in mental health problems, clinical psychological science must assert a leadership role in guiding a national response to this secondary crisis. In this article, COVID-19 is conceptualized as a unique, compounding...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background The use of functional neuroimaging has been an extremely fruitful avenue for investigating the neural basis of human reward function. This approach has included identification of potential neurobiological mechanisms of psychiatric disease and examination of environmental, experiential, and biological factors that may contribute to diseas...
Article
Depression is a disorder of dysregulated affective and social functioning, with attenuated responding to reward, heightened responding to threat (perhaps especially social threat), excessive focus on negative aspects of the self, ineffective engagement with other people, and difficulty modulating all of these responses. Known risk factors provide a...
Article
Full-text available
Background Psychopathic traits are hypothesized to be associated with dysfunction across three resting-state networks: the default mode (DMN), salience (SN), and central executive (CEN). Past work has not considered heterogeneity in the neural networks of individuals who display psychopathic traits, which is likely critical in understanding the eti...
Article
Objective Understanding the fluctuating emotional and cognitive states of adolescents with depressive symptoms requires fine-grained and naturalistic measurements. This study used ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to investigate the affective correlates and consequences of mind-wandering in adolescents with anhedonia (AH) and typically developi...
Preprint
Full-text available
COVID-19 presents humanity with one of the greatest health and economic crises of the 21st Century. Because COVID-19 has already begun to precipitate a huge increase in mental health problems, we believe that clinical science must also play a leadership role in guiding a national response to this secondary crisis. In this article, we explain why CO...
Article
Full-text available
A growing literature suggests that adversity is associated with later altered brain function, particularly within the corticolimbic system that supports emotion processing and salience detection (e.g., amygdala, prefrontal cortex). Although neighborhood socioeconomic disadvantage has been shown to predict maladaptive behavioral outcomes, particular...
Article
Objective Research has yielded factors considered critical to risk for borderline personality disorder (BPD). Yet, these factors overlap and are relevant to other disorders, like depression and conduct disorder (CD). Regularized regression, a machine learning approach, was developed to allow identification of the most important variables in large d...
Article
Insufficient sleep is common in young adults and has meaningful consequences for daytime functioning, including increased sleepiness, affective disruption and depressive symptoms. This study provides a preliminary evaluation of the feasibility, acceptability and affective consequences of extended sleep opportunity in young women with insufficient s...
Article
Full-text available
Peers become increasingly important during adolescence, with emerging gender differences in peer relationships associated with distinct behavioral and emotional outcomes. Males tend to socialize in larger peer groups with competitive interactions, whereas females engage in longer bouts of dyadic interaction with more intimacy. To examine gender dif...
Article
Anxiety is the most prevalent psychological disorder among youth, and even following treatment, it confers risk for anxiety relapse and the development of depression. Anxiety disorders are associated with heightened response to negative affective stimuli in the brain networks that underlie emotion processing. One factor that can attenuate the sympt...
Article
Full-text available
During adolescence, youth may experience heightened attention bias to socially relevant stimuli; however, it is unclear if attention bias toward social threat may be exacerbated for adolescents with a history of anxiety. This study evaluated attentional bias during the Chatroom-Interact task with 25 adolescents with a history of anxiety (18F, Mage...
Article
Background: Girls' depressive symptoms typically increase in adolescence, with individual differences in course and severity being key risk factors for impaired emotional functioning in young adulthood. Given the continued brain white matter (WM) maturation that occurs in adolescence, the present study tested whether structural connectivity patter...
Article
Background: High trait impulsive sensation seeking (ISS), the tendency to engage in behavior without forethought and to seek out new or extreme experiences, is a transdiagnostic risk factor for externalizing and mood disorders, particularly bipolar disorder. We published a positive association between trait ISS and reward expectancy-related activi...
Article
While every major model of depression has proposed that positive affect is disrupted in the disorder, it is only recently that scientists have devoted their attention to disruption of the neural aspects of positive affect in depression. This attention is burgeoning, and accumulating evidence, including meta-analytic findings, supports reduced funct...
Article
This book provides an overview of key processes relevant to disturbances in positive valence systems; discusses cutting-edge advances on positive emotion disturbance in key clinical disorders, translational applications, and targeted treatment foci; discusses conceptualizations of psychopathology and models of positive emotion disturbances; and sug...
Article
Full-text available
Functional neuroimaging results need to replicate to inform sound models of human social cognition and its neural correlates. Introspection, the capacity to reflect on one's thoughts and feelings, is one process required for normative social cognition and emotional functioning. Engaging in introspection draws on a network of brain regions including...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background Cannabis use is common among adolescents and emerging adults and is associated with significant adverse consequences for a subset of users. Rates of use peak between the ages of 18-25, yet the neurobiological consequences for neural systems that are actively developing during this time remain poorly understood. In particular, cannabis ex...
Article
Identifying the neural correlates of positive interactions between friendship dyads may provide insights into mechanisms associated with adolescent social development. Forty-eight 14- to 18-year old typically developing adolescents were video-recorded discussing a shared positive event with a close friend and subsequently viewed clips during an fMR...
Article
Full-text available
Sexual minority adolescents (SMA) are more likely to suffer from depression, putatively through experiences of social stress and victimization interfering with processing of social reward. Alterations in neural reward networks, which develop during adolescence, confer risk for the development of depression. Employing both social and monetary reward...
Article
Full-text available
Negative relationships with parents and peers are considered risk factors for depression in adolescence, yet not all adolescents perceiving negative social relationships develop depression. In line with neurobiological susceptibility to social context models, we examined how individual differences in neural processing of parental praise, a unique f...
Article
Objective: Children of depressed parents are at increased risk for psychopathology. One putative mechanism of risk appears to be altered processing of emotion-related stimuli. Although prior work has evaluated how adolescent offspring of depressed parents may show blunted reward processing compared to low-risk youth, there has been less attention...
Article
Importance Anhedonia is a symptom of multiple psychiatric conditions in young adults that is associated with poorer mental health and psychosocial function and abnormal ventral striatum reward processing. Aberrant function of neural reward circuitry is well documented in anhedonia and other psychiatric disorders. Longitudinal studies to identify po...
Article
Introduction Adolescents exhibit progressively later timing of sleep and circadian rhythms that is mismatched with the early schedules imposed by high school, resulting in circadian misalignment. Observational evidence links circadian misalignment to mood disturbance and substance abuse, as well as an altered neural response to reward, but preclude...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction Sleep-related problems are pervasive among youth with psychiatric symptoms, heterogeneous in nature, and vary by frequency, intensity, duration, and impairment. This poses a challenge for measurement of sleep problems in these populations. Although there are well-validated self-reports of sleep functioning in pediatric samples, we pres...
Article
Full-text available
Antisocial behavior (AB), including violence, criminality, and substance abuse, is often linked to deficits in emotion processing, reward-related learning, and inhibitory control, as well as their associated neural networks. To better understand these deficits, the structural connections between brain regions implicated in AB can be examined using...
Article
Objective: Children who are fearful and anxious are at heightened risk for developing depression in adolescence. Treating anxiety disorders in pre-/early adolescence may be one mechanism through which depressive symptoms later in adolescence can be prevented. We hypothesized that anxious youth who responded positively to cognitive-behavioral thera...
Article
The ways parents socialize their adolescents to cope with anxiety (i.e. coping socialization) may be instrumental in the development of threat processing and coping responses. Coping socialization may be important for anxious adolescents, as they show altered neural threat processing and over‐reliance on disengaged coping (e.g., avoidance and distr...
Article
Although conduct problems (CP) and hyperactivity/attention problems (HAP) are thought to covary with regularity, few studies have traced the probability of co-occurring CP and HAP longitudinally, particularly beginning in the toddler period. Further, there is little research examining how early co-occurring trajectories of CP and HAP predict functi...
Article
Psychopathy is a complex disorder consisting of harmful personality traits and impulsive-lifestyle and antisocial behaviors. Weakened functional connectivity between limbic and prefrontal brain regions is thought to underlie impaired sensitivity to others’ emotions that contribute to the interpersonal and affective personality traits associated wit...
Article
Objective: Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents; however, objective biomarkers of suicide risk are lacking. Aberrant self-face amygdala activity is associated with suicide ideation, and its connectivity with neural regions that enable self-processing (eg medial prefrontal cortex) may be a suicide risk factor. Method: Ad...
Article
Models of differential susceptibility hypothesize that neural function may be a marker of differential susceptibility to context, but no studies have tested this hypothesis. Using a sample of 310 young men from low-income urban neighborhoods, this study investigated amygdala reactivity to facial expressions as a moderator of the relations between s...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives: Insufficient sleep can increase risk for adverse psychological and physical outcomes. Parental monitoring of daily activities is associated with youth health behaviors. We examined parental monitoring of waking and bedtime behaviors and sleep in a community sample of high-risk youth. Methods: One-hundred sixty-five 10- to 14-year-old...
Article
Full-text available
Background Trauma exposure is associated with development of depression and anxiety; yet, some individuals are resilient to these trauma-associated effects. Differentiating mechanisms underlying development of negative affect and resilience following trauma is critical for developing effective interventions. One pathway through which trauma could e...
Article
Full-text available
Feeling emotionally close to others during social interactions is a ubiquitous and meaningful experience that can elicit positive affect. The present study integrates functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to investigate whether neural response to social reward (1) is related to the experience of emot...