Pathways in the young brain are associated with susceptibility for mental disorders

April 18, 2018, University of Oslo
Pathways in the young brain are associated with susceptibility for mental disorders
Brain map showing the fiber tracts that were associated with higher levels of psychiatric symptoms in youth. Credit: University of Oslo

Adolescence is a period for individual growth and opportunities, but it also coincides with the emergence of many mental disorders. In a study that was recently published in JAMA Psychiatry, Norwegian researchers revealed that the pathways between brain regions are associated with early signs of mental illness in youth.

The researchers analyzed a wide range of clinical, cognitive, and genetic data from more than 6000 children and adolescents. They derived a score of general cognitive ability as well as early signs of psychiatric symptoms for each individual, and analyzed images of pathways in the brain of more than 700 of the participants using advanced machine learning techniques.

The study showed that the score of preclinical psychiatric symptoms was heritable and associated with disruption of specific pathways in the brain.

"We found that disruption of fiber tracts connecting involved in emotional regulation and complex cognitive behavior was linked to higher levels of . Although follow-up studies are needed, this suggests that aberrant connections between specific brain regions present at a young age may be associated with increased susceptibility for later in life, says lead author Dag Alnæs.

Even though typically manifest in adolescence and early adulthood, the vulnerability for developing disease may be present before any overt symptoms arise. "The ultimate goal is to be able to predict which individuals are at risk before clinical symptoms appear," associate professor Lars T. Westlye says. "Advanced brain imaging has been proposed to represent one promising approach for such early detection. However, at present there is no robust imaging marker that allows us to identify single individuals at risk with any clinically relevant certainty, but our study is one of several recent attempts to provide a first step towards this goal."

Explore further: Specific white matter patterns linked to youth psychopathology

More information: Dag Alnæs et al. Association of Heritable Cognitive Ability and Psychopathology With White Matter Properties in Children and Adolescents, JAMA Psychiatry (2018). DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.4277

Related Stories

Specific white matter patterns linked to youth psychopathology

January 29, 2018
(HealthDay)—General psychopathology is a heritable trait in youth that may be detected early in life through brain structural connectivity, according to a study published online Jan. 24 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Cannabis abuse alters activity of brain regions linked to negative emotion

January 16, 2018
Young people with cannabis dependence have altered brain function that may be the source of emotional disturbances and increased psychosis risk that are associated with cannabis abuse, according to a new study published in ...

Study draws links between physical characteristics, like age and body mass index, and brain health

March 7, 2018
March 7, 2018)—Mount Sinai researchers have shown, for the first time, the complex web of links between physical and behavioral characteristics, like age, body mass index (BMI), and substance use, and specific patterns ...

Amygdala neurons increase as children become adults—except in autism

March 20, 2018
In a striking new finding, researchers at the UC Davis MIND Institute found that typically-developing children gain more neurons in a region of the brain that governs social and emotional behavior, the amygdala, as they become ...

Anxiety: An early indicator of Alzheimer's disease?

January 12, 2018
A new study suggests an association between elevated amyloid beta levels and the worsening of anxiety symptoms. The findings support the hypothesis that neuropsychiatric symptoms could represent the early manifestation of ...

Vulnerability to psychosis: How to detect it

March 29, 2017
A new study has identified an early vulnerability brain marker for psychosis. A research team led by University of Montreal and Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center shows that an exaggerated emotional response ...

Recommended for you

Study shows how bias can influence people estimating the ages of other people

October 17, 2018
A trio of researchers from the University of New South Wales and Western Sydney University has discovered some of the factors involved when people make errors in estimating the ages of other people. In their paper published ...

Infants are more likely to learn when with a peer

October 16, 2018
Infants are more likely to learn from on-screen instruction when paired with another infant as opposed to viewing the lesson alone, according to a new study.

Researchers use brain cells in a dish to study genetic origins of schizophrenia

October 16, 2018
A study in Biological Psychiatry has established a new analytical method for investigating the complex genetic origins of mental illnesses using brain cells that are grown in a dish from human embryonic stem cells. Researchers ...

Income and wealth affect the mental health of Australians, study shows

October 16, 2018
Australians who have higher incomes and greater wealth are more likely to experience better mental health throughout their lives, new research led by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre has found.

Linguistic red flags from Facebook posts can predict future depression diagnoses

October 15, 2018
In any given year, depression affects more than 6 percent of the adult population in the United States—some 16 million people—but fewer than half receive the treatment they need. What if an algorithm could scan social ...

Early changes to synapse gene regulation may cause Alzheimer's disease

October 15, 2018
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia, involving memory loss and a reduction in cognitive abilities. Patients with AD develop multiple abnormal protein structures in their brains that are thought to ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.