Brain connectivity networks and longitudinal trajectories of depression symptoms in adolescence

Rachel Ellis, Marc L. Seal, Christopher Adamson, Richard Beare, Julian G. Simmons, Sarah Whittle, Nicholas B. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


High levels of depression during adolescence may contribute to the risk for future depression later in life. This study examined the relationship between the developmental timing of depressive symptoms, and brain structural outcomes in late adolescence. In a prior work, we examined longitudinal trajectories of depressive symptoms in 243 adolescents (121 males and 122 females), and identified four subgroups: a normative group with stable low levels of depression, two groups with declining symptoms, and one group with increasing symptoms. For the current paper, diffusion-weighted MRI images were acquired at the final wave of the study, and used to perform white matter tractography and brain network analysis. The four depression trajectory groups were tested for differences in brain connectivity variables. This revealed differences in several frontal and temporal regions. The groups that had experienced elevated depression symptoms in early adolescence differed from the normative group in a greater number of areas than the group who had experienced depression later. Affected tracts corresponded to areas of white matter that are still maturing during this period, particularly frontolimbic regions. These findings support the proposition that the timing and duration of depression symptoms during adolescence are associated with brain structural outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-69
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatry Research: Neuroimaging
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2017


  • Adolescent Development
  • Brain connectomics
  • Diffusion tractography

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