Reduced anxiety and changes in amygdala network properties in adolescents with training for awareness, resilience, and action (TARA).
2020; 29: 102521
Mindfulness-based approaches show promise to improve emotional health in youth and may help treat and prevent adolescent depression and anxiety. However, there is a fundamental gap in understanding the neural reorganization that takes place as a result of such interventions. The Training for Awareness, Resilience, and Action (TARA) program, initially developed for depressed adolescents, uses a framework drawn from neuroscience, mindfulness, yoga, and modern psychotherapeutic techniques to promote emotional health. The goal of this study was to assess the effects of the TARA training on emotional health and structural white matter brain networks in healthy youth. We analyzed data from 23 adolescents who underwent the 12-week TARA training in a controlled within-subject study design and whose brain networks were assessed using diffusion MRI connectomics. Compared to the control time period, adolescents showed a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms with TARA (Cohen's d=-0.961, p=0.006); moreover, the node strength of the Right Amygdala decreased significantly after TARA (Cohen's d=-1.026, p=0.004). Post-hoc analyses indicated that anxiety at baseline before TARA was positively correlated with Right Amygdala node strength (r=0.672, p=0.001). While change in Right Amygdala node strength with TARA was not correlated with change in anxiety (r=0.146, p=0.51), it was associated with change in depression subscale of Anhedonia / Negative Affect (r=0.575, p=0.004, exploratory analysis), possibly due to overlapping constructs captured in our anxiety and depression scales. Our results suggest that increased structural connectivity of Right Amygdala may underlie increased anxiety in adolescents and be lowered through anxiety-reducing training such as TARA. The results of this study contribute to our understanding of the neural mechanisms of TARA and may facilitate neuroscience-based prevention and treatment of adolescent anxiety and depression.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.nicl.2020.102521
View details for PubMedID 33316764
Neural Correlates of Smartphone Dependence in Adolescents
FRONTIERS IN HUMAN NEUROSCIENCE
2020; 14: 564629
Increases in depressive and suicide-related symptoms among United States adolescents have been recently linked to increased use of smartphones. Understanding of the brain mechanisms that underlie the potential smartphone dependence may help develop interventions to address this important problem. In this exploratory study, we investigated the neural mechanisms underlying potential smartphone dependence in a sample of 19 adolescent volunteers who completed self-assessments of their smartphone dependence, depressive symptoms, and sleep problems. All 19 adolescents underwent diffusion MRI that allowed for assessment of white matter structural connectivity within the framework of connectomics. Based on previous literature on the neurobiology of addiction, we hypothesized a disruption of network centrality of three nodes in the mesolimbic network: Nucleus Accumbens, anterior cingulate cortex, and amygdala. Our results showed positive correlations between the node centrality of the right amygdala and self-reported smartphone dependence, between smartphone dependence and sleep problems, and between sleep problems and depressive symptoms. A higher phone dependence was observed in females compared to males. Supported by these results, we propose a model of how smartphone dependence can be linked to aberrations in brain networks, sex, sleep disturbances, and depression in adolescents.
View details for DOI 10.3389/fnhum.2020.564629
View details for Web of Science ID 000580387000001
View details for PubMedID 33132878
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7577047
Gray Matter Changes in Adolescents Participating in a Meditation Training.
Frontiers in human neuroscience
2020; 14: 319
Meditation has shown to benefit a wide range of conditions and symptoms, but the neural mechanisms underlying the practice remain unclear. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have investigated the structural brain changes due to the practice by examining volume, density, or cortical thickness changes. However, these studies have focused on adults; meditation's structural effects on the adolescent brain remain understudied. In this study, we investigated how meditation training affects the structure of the adolescent brain by scanning a group of 38 adolescents (16.48 ± 1.29 years) before and after participating in a 12-week meditation training. Subjects underwent Training for Awareness, Resilience, and Action (TARA), a program that mainly incorporates elements from mindfulness meditation and yoga-based practices. A subset of the adolescents also received an additional control scan 12 weeks before TARA. We conducted voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to assess gray matter volume changes pre- to post-training and during the control period. Subjects showed significant gray matter (GM) volume decreases in the left posterior insula and to a lesser extent in the left thalamus and left putamen after meditation training. There were no significant changes during the control period. Our results support previous findings that meditation affects regions associated with physical and emotional awareness. However, our results are different from previous morphometric studies in which meditation was associated with structural increases. We posit that this discrepancy may be due to the differences between the adolescent brain and the adult brain.
View details for DOI 10.3389/fnhum.2020.00319
View details for PubMedID 32922278
Rate of radiation-induced microbleed formation on 7T MRI relates to cognitive impairment in young patients treated with radiation therapy for a brain tumor.
Radiotherapy and oncology : journal of the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology
2020; 154: 145–53
Radiation therapy (RT) is essential to the management of many brain tumors, but has been known to lead to cognitive decline and vascular injury in the form of cerebral microbleeds (CMBs).In a subset of children, adolescents, and young adults recruited from a larger trial investigating arteriopathy and stroke risk after RT, we evaluated the prevalence of CMBs after RT, examined risk factors for CMBs and cognitive impairment, and related their longitudinal development to cognitive performance changes.Twenty-five patients (mean 17 years, range: 10-25 years) underwent 7-Tesla MRI and cognitive assessment. Nineteen patients were treated with whole-brain or focal RT 1-month to 20-years prior, while 6 non-irradiated patients with posterior-fossa tumors served as controls. CMBs were detected on 7T susceptibility-weighted imaging (SWI) using semi-automated software, a first use in this population.CMB detection sensitivity with 7T SWI was higher than previously reported at lower field strengths, with one or more CMBs detected in 100% of patients treated with RT at least 1-year prior. CMBs were localized to dose-targeted brain volumes with risk factors including whole-brain RT (p = 0.05), a higher RT dose (p = 0.01), increasing time since RT (p = 0.03), and younger age during RT (p = 0.01). Apart from RT dose, these factors were associated with impaired memory performance. Follow-up data in a subset of patients revealed a proportional increase in CMB count with worsening verbal memory performance (r = -0.85, p = 0.03).Treatment with RT during youth is associated with the chronic development of CMBs that evolve with memory impairment over time.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.radonc.2020.09.028
View details for PubMedID 32966846
- Test-Retest Reliability of Graph Theoretic Metrics in Adolescent Brains BRAIN CONNECTIVITY 2019; 9 (2): 144–54
High levels of mitochondrial DNA are associated with adolescent brain structural hypoconnectivity and increased anxiety but not depression
JOURNAL OF AFFECTIVE DISORDERS
2018; 232: 283–90
Adolescent anxiety and depression are highly prevalent psychiatric disorders that are associated with altered molecular and neurocircuit profiles. Recently, increased mitochondrial DNA copy number (mtDNA-cn) has been found to be associated with several psychopathologies in adults, especially anxiety and depression. The associations between mtDNA-cn and anxiety and depression have not, however, been investigated in adolescents. Moreover, to date there have been no studies examining associations between mtDNA-cn and brain network alterations in mood disorders in any age group.The first aim of this study was to compare salivary mtDNA-cn between 49 depressed and/or anxious adolescents and 35 well-matched healthy controls. The second aim of this study was to identify neural correlates of mtDNA-cn derived from diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and tractography, in the full sample of adolescents.There were no diagnosis-specific alterations in mtDNA-cn. However, there was a positive correlation between mtDNA-cn and levels of anxiety, but not depression, in the full sample of adolescents. A subnetwork of connections largely corresponding to the left fronto-occipital fasciculus had significantly lower fractional anisotropy (FA) values in adolescents with higher than median mtDNA-cn.Undifferentiated analysis of free and intracellular mtDNA and use of DTI-based tractography represent this study's limitations.The results of this study help elucidate the relationships between clinical symptoms, molecular changes, and neurocircuitry alterations in adolescents with and without anxiety and depression, and they suggest that increased mtDNA-cn is associated both with increased anxiety symptoms and with decreased fronto-occipital structural connectivity in this population.
View details for PubMedID 29500956
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5864120