Cortico-amygdalar maturational coupling is associated with depressive symptom trajectories during adolescence

Nandita Vijayakumar, Nicholas B. Allen, Meg Dennison, Michelle L. Byrne, Julian G. Simmons, Sarah Whittle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Background Adolescence is characterized by increasing prevalence of depressive symptomatology, along with significant structural brain development. While much research has examined focal abnormalities in gray matter structure underlying depression, we employed a structural coupling approach to examine whether longitudinal associations between amygdala and cortical development (referred to as maturational coupling) was related to concurrent changes in depressive symptomatology during adolescence. Method 166 participants underwent up to three MRI scans (367 scans) between 11 and 20 years of age. Depressive symptoms were measured at three coinciding time points using the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression scale. Linear mixed models were employed to identify whether change in amygdala volume was related to development of cortical thickness, and if maturational coupling of these regions was related to changes in depressive symptomatology. Results Positive maturational coupling was identified between the right amygdala and (predominantly anterior) prefrontal cortex, as well as parts of the temporal cortices. Greater positive coupling of these regions was associated with reductions in depressive symptoms over time. Conclusions Findings highlight significant associations between cortico-amygdalar maturational coupling and the emergence of depressive symptoms during adolescence, suggesting that synchronous development of these regions might support more adaptive affect regulation and functioning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-411
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Affective functioning
  • Brain development
  • Depressive symptomatology
  • Structural coupling

Cite this