Subgenual anterior cingulate responses to peer rejection: A marker of adolescents' risk for depression

Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, 1285 Franz Hall, Box 951563, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563, USA.
Development and Psychopathology (Impact Factor: 4.89). 02/2011; 23(1):283-92. DOI: 10.1017/S0954579410000799
Source: PubMed


Extensive developmental research has linked peer rejection during adolescence with a host of psychopathological outcomes, including depression. Moreover, recent neuroimaging research has suggested that increased activity in the subgenual region of the anterior cingulate cortex (subACC), which has been consistently linked with depression, is related to heightened sensitivity to peer rejection among adolescents. The goal of the current study was to directly test the hypothesis that adolescents' subACC responses are predictive of their risk for future depression, by examining the relationship between subACC activity during peer rejection and increases in depressive symptoms during the following year. During a functional magnetic resonance imaging scan, 20 13-year-olds were ostensibly excluded by peers during an online social interaction. Participants' depressive symptoms were assessed via parental reports at the time of the scan and 1 year later. Region of interest and whole-brain analyses indicated that greater subACC activity during exclusion was associated with increases in parent-reported depressive symptoms during the following year. These findings suggest that subACC responsivity to social exclusion may serve as a neural marker of adolescents' risk for future depression and have implications for understanding the relationship between sensitivity to peer rejection and the increased risk of depression that occurs during adolescence.

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Available from: Mirella Dapretto
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    • "For example, boys with a rejected status who are more distressed by a rejection experience have more externalizing behavioral problems than boys with a rejected status who show lower levels of reactive distress (Sandstrom et al. 2003). Similarly, adolescents who display enhanced neural responses to social exclusion are more likely to exhibit depressive symptoms 1 year later (Masten et al. 2011). Given that children's social experiences in peer groups play a crucial role in shaping their perceptions and expectations about future social interactions (Crick and Dodge 1994; Ladd et al. 2014; London et al. 2007), sustained exposure to either high or low levels of peer group rejection is likely to have an impact on how adolescents respond to negative peer treatment , such as social exclusion. "
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    ABSTRACT: This functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) study examined subjective and neural responses to social exclusion in adolescents (age 12-15) who either had a stable accepted (n = 27; 14 males) or a chronic rejected (n = 19; 12 males) status among peers from age 6 to 12. Both groups of adolescents reported similar increases in distress after being excluded in a virtual ball-tossing game (Cyberball), but adolescents with a history of chronic peer rejection showed higher activity in brain regions previously linked to the detection of, and the distress caused by, social exclusion. Specifically, compared with stably accepted adolescents, chronically rejected adolescents displayed: 1) higher activity in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) during social exclusion and 2) higher activity in the dACC and anterior prefrontal cortex when they were incidentally excluded in a social interaction in which they were overall included. These findings demonstrate that chronic childhood peer rejection is associated with heightened neural responses to social exclusion during adolescence, which has implications for understanding the processes through which peer rejection may lead to adverse effects on mental health over time.
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    • "Several recent studies have documented anxiety-and mood-related correlates using novel neuroimaging paradigms that simulate social interactions (Jarcho et al., 2013). Although findings vary across studies, activation in amygdala, striatum and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) consistently differentiate anxious/depressed from healthy individuals (Guyer et al., 2008; Gunther Moor et al., 2010; Davey et al., 2011; Masten et al., 2011; Lau et al., 2012; Silk et al., 2014; Somerville et al., 2013; Guyer et al., 2014). These regions are thought to function interactively to ascribe salience, generate predictions and create flexible patterns of behavior within a motivated social context (Phelps et al., 2004; Schiller et al., 2008; Haber and Knutson, 2010; Pessoa and Adolphs, 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Adolescence is the time of peak onset for many anxiety disorders, particularly Social Anxiety Disorder. Research using simulated social interactions consistently finds differential activation in several brain regions in anxious (vs. non-anxious) youth, including amygdala, striatum, and medial prefrontal cortex. However, few studies examined the anticipation of peer interactions, a key component in the etiology and maintenance of anxiety disorders. Youth completed the Chatroom Task while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging. Patterns of neural activation were assessed in anxious and non-anxious youth as they were cued to anticipate social feedback from peers. Anxious participants evidenced greater amygdala activation and rostral anterior cingulate (rACC)↔amygdala coupling than non-anxious participants during anticipation of feedback from peers they had previously rejected; anxious participants also evidenced less nucleus accumbens activation during anticipation of feedback from selected peers. Finally, anxiety interacted with age in rACC: in anxious participants, age was positively associated with activation to anticipated feedback from rejected peers and negatively for selected peers, whereas the opposite pattern emerged for non-anxious youth. Overall, anxious youth showed greater reactivity in anticipation of feedback from rejected peers, and thus may ascribe greater salience to these potential interactions and increase the likelihood of avoidance behavior. © The Author (2014). Published by Oxford University Press. For Permissions, please email:
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    • "As with most fMRI studies of ER, we administered training before fMRI scanning, limiting interpretations about the validity of alleged differences between the reappraisal and comparison events. The relatively small sample size in the current study, although in line with similar studies of cognitive reappraisal (Perlman, et al., 2012) and peer rejection (Masten, et al., 2011; Silk, et al., 2013) in adolescent depression, should be acknowledged as a limitation to the generalizability of the study findings. Finally, since eight of the fifteen depressed participants had a co-morbid anxiety diagnosis, implications about extent to which the observed effects reflect depression-specific characteristics are limited. "
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    ABSTRACT: Depression is the most common psychiatric disorder in adolescence, and is characterised by an inability to down-regulate negative emotional responses to stress. Adult studies suggest this may be associated with reduced functional connectivity between prefrontal and subcortical regions, yet the neurological mechanisms in adolescence remain unclear. We developed a novel, age-appropriate, reappraisal paradigm to investigate functional connectivity during reappraisal of a real-life source of stress in 15 depressed and 15 non-depressed adolescents. During fMRI, participants i) attended to, and ii) implemented reappraisal techniques (learnt prior to fMRI) in response to, rejection. Reappraisal reduced negative mood and belief in negative thoughts in both groups alike, however during reappraisal (versus attend) trials, depressed adolescents showed greater connectivity between the right frontal pole and numerous subcortical and cortical regions than non-depressed adolescents. These findings tentatively suggest that, when instructed, depressed adolescents do have the ability to engage neural networks involved in emotion regulation, possibly because adolescence reflects a period of heightened plasticity. These data support the value of cognitive reappraisal as a treatment tool, identify neural markers that could be used to optimise current therapies, and lay the foundations for developing novel neuroscientific techniques for the treatment of adolescent depression. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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