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Understanding deviations from typical brain development is a promising approach to comprehend pathophysiology in childhood and adolescence. We investigated if cerebellar volumes different than expected for age and sex could predict psychopathology, executive functions and academic achievement.
Children and adolescents aged 6–17 years from the Brazilian High-Risk Cohort Study for Mental Conditions had their cerebellar volume estimated using Multiple Automatically Generated Templates from T1-weighted images at baseline (n = 677) and at 3-year follow-up (n = 447). Outcomes were assessed using the Child Behavior Checklist and standardized measures of executive functions and school achievement. Models of typically developing cerebellum were based on a subsample not exposed to risk factors and without mental-health conditions (n = 216). Deviations from this model were constructed for the remaining individuals (n = 461) and standardized variation from age and sex trajectory model was used to predict outcomes in cross-sectional, longitudinal and mediation analyses.
Cerebellar volumes higher than expected for age and sex were associated with lower externalizing specific factor and higher executive functions. In a longitudinal analysis, deviations from typical development at baseline predicted inhibitory control at follow-up, and cerebellar deviation changes from baseline to follow-up predicted changes in reading and writing abilities. The association between deviations in cerebellar volume and academic achievement was mediated by inhibitory control.
Deviations in the cerebellar typical development are associated with outcomes in youth that have long-lasting consequences. This study highlights both the potential of typical developing models and the important role of the cerebellum in mental health, cognition and education.
Early psychosocial adversities exist at many levels, including caregiving-related, extrafamilial, and sociodemographic, which despite their high interrelatedness may have unique impacts on development. In this paper, we focus on caregiving-related early adversities (crEAs) and parse the heterogeneity of crEAs via data reduction techniques that identify experiential cooccurrences. Using network science, we characterized crEA cooccurrences to represent the comorbidity of crEA experiences across a sample of school-age children (n = 258; 6–12 years old) with a history of crEAs. crEA dimensions (variable level) and crEA subtypes (subject level) were identified using parallel factor analysis/principal component analysis and graph-based Louvain community detection. Bagging enhancement with cross-validation provided estimates of robustness. These data-driven dimensions/subtypes showed evidence of stability, transcended traditional sociolegally defined groups, were more homogenous than sociolegally defined groups, and reduced statistical correlations with sociodemographic factors. Finally, random forests showed both unique and common predictive importance of the crEA dimensions/subtypes for childhood mental health symptoms and academic skills. These data-driven outcomes provide additional tools and recommendations for crEA data reduction to inform precision medicine efforts in this area.
Objectives: Clinical neuroscience is increasingly turning to imaging the human brain for answers to a range of questions and challenges. To date, the majority of studies have focused on the neural basis of current psychiatric symptoms, which can facilitate the identification of neurobiological markers for diagnosis. However, the increasing availability and feasibility of using imaging modalities, such as diffusion imaging and resting-state fMRI, enable longitudinal mapping of brain development. This shift in the field is opening the possibility of identifying predictive markers of risk or prognosis, and also represents a critical missing element for efforts to promote personalized or individualized medicine in psychiatry (i.e., stratified psychiatry). Methods: The present work provides a selective review of potentially high-yield populations for longitudinal examination with MRI, based upon our understanding of risk from epidemiologic studies and initial MRI findings. Results: Our discussion is organized into three topic areas: (1) practical considerations for establishing temporal precedence in psychiatric research; (2) readiness of the field for conducting longitudinal MRI, particularly for neurodevelopmental questions; and (3) illustrations of high-yield populations and time windows for examination that can be used to rapidly generate meaningful and useful data. Particular emphasis is placed on the implementation of time-appropriate, developmentally informed longitudinal designs, capable of facilitating the identification of biomarkers predictive of risk and prognosis. Conclusions: Strategic longitudinal examination of the brain at-risk has the potential to bring the concepts of early intervention and prevention to psychiatry. (JINS, 2016, 22, 164–179)
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