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Over the past decade, transdiagnostic indicators in relation to neurobiological processes have provided extensive insight into youth’s risk for psychopathology. During development, exposure to childhood trauma and dysregulation (i.e., so-called AAA symptomology: anxiety, aggression, and attention problems) puts individuals at a disproportionate risk for developing psychopathology and altered network-level neural functioning. Evidence for the latter has emerged from resting-state fMRI studies linking mental health symptoms and aberrations in functional networks (e.g., cognitive control (CCN), default mode networks (DMN)) in youth, although few of these investigations have used longitudinal designs. Herein, we leveraged a three-year longitudinal study to identify whether traumatic exposures and concomitant dysregulation trigger changes in the developmental trajectories of resting-state functional networks involved in cognitive control (N = 190; 91 females; time 1 Mage = 11.81). Findings from latent growth curve analyses revealed that greater trauma exposure predicted increasing connectivity between the CCN and DMN across time. Greater levels of dysregulation predicted reductions in within-network connectivity in the CCN. These findings presented in typically developing youth corroborate connectivity patterns reported in clinical populations, suggesting there is predictive utility in using transdiagnostic indicators to forecast alterations in resting-state networks implicated in psychopathology.
Trait dissociation has not been examined from a structural human brain mapping perspective in healthy adults or children. Non-pathological dissociation shares some features with daydreaming and mind-wandering, but also involves subtle disruptions in affect and autobiographical memory.
To identify neurostructural biomarkers of trait dissociation in healthy children.
Typically developing 9- to 15-year-olds (n = 180) without psychological or behavioural disorders were enrolled in the Developmental Chronnecto-Genomics (DevCoG) study of healthy brain development and completed psychological assessments of trauma exposure and dissociation, along with a structural T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging. We conducted univariate ANCOVA generalised linear models for each region of the default mode network examining the effects of trait dissociation, including scanner site, age, gender and trauma as covariates and correcting for multiple comparison.
We found that the precuneus was significantly larger in children with higher levels of trait dissociation but this was not related to trauma exposure. The inferior parietal volume was smaller in children with higher levels of trauma but was not related to dissociation. No other regions of interest, including frontal and limbic structures, were significantly related to trait dissociation even before multiple comparison correction.
Trait dissociation reflects subtle cognitive disruptions worthy of study in healthy people and warrants study as a potential risk factor for psychopathology. This neurostructural study of trait dissociation in healthy children identified the precuneus as an essential brain region to consider in future dissociation research.
Cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug in the United States and is often associated with changes in attention function, which may ultimately impact numerous other cognitive faculties (e.g. memory, executive function). Importantly, despite the increasing rates of cannabis use and widespread legalization in the United States, the neural mechanisms underlying attentional dysfunction in chronic users are poorly understood.
We used magnetoencephalography (MEG) and a modified Posner cueing task in 21 regular cannabis users and 32 demographically matched non-user controls. MEG data were imaged in the time−frequency domain using a beamformer and peak voxel time series were extracted to quantify the oscillatory dynamics underlying use-related aberrations in attentional reorienting, as well as the impact on spontaneous neural activity immediately preceding stimulus onset.
Behavioral performance on the task (e.g. reaction time) was similar between regular cannabis users and non-user controls. However, the neural data indicated robust theta-band synchronizations across a distributed network during attentional reorienting, with activity in the bilateral inferior frontal gyri being markedly stronger in users relative to controls (p's < 0.036). Additionally, we observed significantly reduced spontaneous theta activity across this distributed network during the pre-stimulus baseline in cannabis users relative to controls (p's < 0.020).
Despite similar performance on the task, we observed specific alterations in the neural dynamics serving attentional reorienting in regular cannabis users compared to controls. These data suggest that regular cannabis users may employ compensatory processing in the prefrontal cortices to efficiently reorient their attention relative to non-user controls.
The Cognitive Battery of the National Institutes of Health Toolbox (NIH-TB) is a collection of assessments that have been adapted and normed for administration across the lifespan and is increasingly used in large-scale population-level research. However, despite increasing adoption in longitudinal investigations of neurocognitive development, and growing recommendations that the Toolbox be used in clinical applications, little is known about the long-term temporal stability of the NIH-TB, particularly in youth.
The present study examined the long-term temporal reliability of the NIH-TB in a large cohort of youth (9–15 years-old) recruited across two data collection sites. Participants were invited to complete testing annually for 3 years.
Reliability was generally low-to-moderate, with intraclass correlation coefficients ranging between 0.31 and 0.76 for the full sample. There were multiple significant differences between sites, with one site generally exhibiting stronger temporal stability than the other.
Reliability of the NIH-TB Cognitive Battery was lower than expected given early work examining shorter test-retest intervals. Moreover, there were very few instances of tests meeting stability requirements for use in research; none of the tests exhibited adequate reliability for use in clinical applications. Reliability is paramount to establishing the validity of the tool, thus the constructs assessed by the NIH-TB may vary over time in youth. We recommend further refinement of the NIH-TB Cognitive Battery and its norming procedures for children before further adoption as a neuropsychological assessment. We also urge researchers who have already employed the NIH-TB in their studies to interpret their results with caution.