Child's Nightmare

A recent imaging study led by a scientist at The University of Texas at Dallas discovered early risk factors linked to children’s temperament as well as a neural process that might predict whether a person would develop depression and anxiety in adolescence and early adulthood.

The study, which was recently published in JAMA Psychiatry, followed a cohort of 165 people from the time they were 4 months old between 1989 and 1993 until the age of 26.

According to the study’s co-author, Dr. Alva Tang, an assistant professor of psychology in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, people who were more inhibited as children and who also don’t respond typically to potential rewards in adolescence are more likely to suffer from depression later in life, more so than anxiety. 

“The findings highlight different mechanisms in the brain and relate them to who is at greater risk for developing different mental health issues,” said Tang, who conducted the research at the University of Maryland, College Park, before joining UT Dallas in August. “These results could inform the development of prevention-oriented treatments tailored to the individual.”

Reference: “Striatal Activity to Reward Anticipation as a Moderator of the Association Between Early Behavioral Inhibition and Changes in Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms From Adolescence to Adulthood” by Alva Tang, Ph.D., Anita Harrewijn, Ph.D., Brenda Benson, Ph.D., Simone P. Haller, Ph.D., Amanda E. Guyer, Ph.D., Koraly E. Perez-Edgar, Ph.D., Argyris Stringaris, MD, Ph.D., Monique Ernst, MD, Ph.D., Melissa A. Brotman, Ph.D., Daniel. S. Pine, MD and Nathan A. Fox, Ph.D., 26 October 2022, JAMA Psychiatry.
DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2022.3483 .
The study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.