Impaired maturation of cognitive control in adolescents who develop major depressive disorder

Nandita Vijayakumar, Sarah Whittle, Murat Yucel, Michelle L Byrne, Orli Schwartz, Julian G Simmons, Nicholas B Allen

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18 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined whether development of two forms of cognitive control (proactive and reactive) between early and midadolescence was associated with the onset of major depressive disorder (MDD) during the same period and if it prospectively predicted MDD onset between mid- and late adolescence. Adolescents (N = 165) completed 3 waves of assessments, at 12 (T1), 16 (T2), and 18 (T3) years of age. Diagnostic interviews were conducted at each time point to identify three groups of adolescents: “early MDD,” those who developed MDD between early (T1) and mid- (T2) adolescence (n = 23); “late MDD,” those who developed MDD between mid- (T2) and late (T3) adolescence (n = 20); and “controls,” those who did not develop MDD (n = 122). A modified Stroop task was completed at T1 and T2 to examine development of proactive and reactive cognitive control. Adolescents with early MDD exhibited significant declines in reactive control, as well as a trend level decline for proactive control, during this period compared to controls. No significant differences in reactive or proactive control were identified in adolescents with late MDD compared to controls, but they did exhibit significant improvements in proactive control compared to those with early MDD. These findings suggest that normative maturation of reactive, and possibly proactive, cognitive control abilities are impaired in adolescents who develop MDD between early and midadolescence. This has implications for understanding the mechanisms underlying certain forms of behavioral dysregulation that are commonly seen in MDD
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-43
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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