Amygdala Resting Connectivity Mediates Association Between Maternal Aggression and Adolescent Major Depression: A 7-Year Longitudinal Study

Bridget L. Callaghan, Orwa Dandash, Julian G. Simmons, Orli Schwartz, Michelle L. Byrne, Lisa Sheeber, Nicholas B. Allen, Sarah Whittle

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Objective The parent–adolescent relationship is an important predictor of adolescent mental health, especially depressive disorders. This relationship is constructed in the context of maturing emotion neurobiology and could help shape such neurobiology in ways that are important for current and future mental health. Amygdala resting-state functional networks have been linked to depression, but whether such resting connectivity is associated with parent affective behaviors or acts as a salient mediator between parenting and risk for depressive disorder is unknown. Method In the present study of 128 individuals, a 7-year longitudinal design was used to examine how observed maternal aggressive behavior during mother–adolescent interactions in early adolescence (12 years) predicted amygdala (whole and subregion)-based resting connectivity in mid adolescence (16 years). In 101 of those participants, whether altered amygdala resting-state connectivity mediated the association between maternal aggressive behavior and the first onset of major depressive disorder (MDD) in late adolescence (19 years) was analyzed. Results Maternal aggression was related to resting-state functional connectivity between the amygdala and right superior temporal-posterior insula-Heschl gyri, bilateral visual cortex, and left temporal and insula cortices (the latter being driven by the centromedial amygdala subregion; p <.001). Further, amygdala and centromedial amygdala connectivity with the temporal and insula cortices mediated the association between maternal aggression and late adolescent-onset MDD (CI 0.20 to 2.87; CI 0.13 to 2.40, respectively). Conclusion These findings are consistent with previous literature documenting the importance of amygdala resting networks for adolescent depression but further suggest the importance of parental affective (particularly aggressive) behavior in the development of such functional connectivity patterns during this period of peak onset for mental health disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)983-991
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescent
  • amygdala
  • maternal aggression
  • parent–adolescent relationship
  • resting state functional connectivity

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