Dr. Allison Vreeland (she/her) is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in working with children, teens, and families. Dr. Vreeland received her PhD in Clinical Psychological Science with a minor in Quantitative Studies at Vanderbilt University. She completed her predoctoral clinical internship in Child Psychology at UCSF with specialty training through the Child Trauma Research Program. She completed a research and clinical fellowship in the Immune Behavioral Health Clinic at Stanford University, where she focused her research efforts on examining neurological markers of patients diagnosed with pediatric acute neuropsychiatric syndrome (PANS). Clinically, Dr. Vreeland’s program of clinical care is focused on the delivery of evidence-based clinical interventions for individuals with anxiety, OCD, PANS/PANDAS, mood disorders, and behavioral challenges.

Clinical Focus

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Child Anxiety and Related Disorders
  • Evidence-based treatments
  • Clinical Psychology

Professional Education

  • Fellowship: Stanford University - Dept of Psychiatry (2024) CA
  • Internship: UCSF Clinical Psychology Training Program (2021) CA
  • PhD Training: Vanderbilt University Office of the Registrar (2021) TN

Lab Affiliations

All Publications

  • Post-infectious inflammation, autoimmunity, and OCD: Sydenham Chorea, Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal infection (PANDAS), and Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Disorder (PANS) DEVELOPMENTAL NEUROSCIENCE Vreeland, A., Calaprice, D., Or-Geva, N., Frye, R. E., Agalliu, D., Lachman, H. M., Pittenger, C., Pallanti, S., Williams, K., Ma, M., Thienemann, M., Gagliano, A., Mellins, E., Frankovich, J. 2023


    Post-infectious neuroinflammation has been implicated in multiple models of acute onset obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) including Sydenham's chorea (SC), pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome (PANS), and pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS). These conditions are associated with a range of autoantibodies which are thought to be triggered by an infections, most notably group A streptococci (GAS). Based on animal models using huma sera, these autoantibodies are thought to cross-react with neural antigens in the basal ganglia and modulate neuronal activity and behavior. As is true for many childhood neuroinflammatory diseases and rheumatological diseases, SC, PANS, and PANDAS lack clinically available, rigorous diagnostic biomarkers and randomized clinical trials. In this review article, we outline the accumulating evidence supporting the role neuroinflammation plays in these disorders. We describe work with animal models including patient-derived anti-neuronal autoantibodies, and we outline imaging studies that show alterations in the basal ganglia. In addition, we present research on metabolites, which are helpful in deciphering functional phenotypes, and on the implication of sleep in these disorders. Finally, we encourage future researchers to collaborate across medical specialties (e.g., pediatrics, psychiatry, rheumatology, immunology, and infectious disease) in order to further research on clinical syndromes presenting with neuropsychiatric manifestations.

    View details for DOI 10.1159/000534261

    View details for Web of Science ID 001076907900001

    View details for PubMedID 37742615

  • Racial/ethnic differences in parenting behaviors among depressed parents. Journal of family psychology : JFP : journal of the Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association (Division 43) Kado-Walton, M., Vreeland, A., Henry, L., Gruhn, M., Compas, B., Garber, J., Weersing, V. R. 2023


    Low parental warmth and high control are associated with parental depression and with the development of depression in children. The majority of this research, however, has focused on non-Hispanic White (NHW) parents. The present study tested whether parenting behaviors differed by race/ethnicity in a sample (N = 169) of parents with a history of depression. Participants were drawn from a randomized trial designed to prevent depression in at-risk adolescents (ages 9-15 years old). All participating parents had a current or past depressive episode within the youth's lifetime. Parents self-classified as 67.5% NHW, 17.2% Latinx (LA), and 15.4% Black (BL). Youths and parents completed standardized positive and negative interaction tasks; trained raters coded the videotaped interactions for parental warmth and control. Analyses examined the impact of race/ethnicity, current parent depression symptoms, context of the discussion (positive/negative task), and demographic covariates on observed parenting behaviors. Results revealed significant interactions among race/ethnicity, depression, and task type. Differences in warmth and control between racial/ethnic groups were more likely to be observed in negative interactions and when parents' depression symptoms were lower. In these circumstances, BL parents were rated as higher in control and lower in warmth than NHW parents. Results add to the literature on racial/ethnic differences in parenting among parents with a history of depression and highlight the importance of assessing parenting in context to capture more subtle patterns of interactions between parents and offspring. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

    View details for DOI 10.1037/fam0001125

    View details for PubMedID 37358525

  • Neuroinflammation in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Sydenham Chorea, Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections, and Pediatric Acute Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome. The Psychiatric clinics of North America Vreeland, A., Thienemann, M., Cunningham, M., Muscal, E., Pittenger, C., Frankovich, J. 2023; 46 (1): 69-88


    Sydenham chorea (SC), pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS) and pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome (PANS) are postinfectious neuroinflammatory diseases that involve the basal ganglia and have obsessive-compulsive disorder as a major manifestation. As is true for many childhood rheumatological diseases and neuroinflammatory diseases, SC, PANDAS and PANS lack clinically available, rigorous diagnostic biomarkers and randomized clinical trials. Research on the treatment of these disorders depend on three complementary modes of intervention including: treating the symptoms, treating the source of inflammation, and treating disturbances of the immune system. Future studies should aim to integrate neuroimaging, inflammation, immunogenetic, and clinical data (noting the stage in the clinical course) to increase our understanding and treatment of SC, PANDAS, PANS, and all other postinfectious/immune-mediated behavioral disorders.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.psc.2022.11.004

    View details for PubMedID 36740356

  • Resting State Psychophysiology in Youth with OCD and Their Caregivers: Preliminary Evidence for Trend Synchrony and Links to Family Functioning. Child psychiatry and human development Rozenman, M., Gonzalez, A., Vreeland, A., Thamrin, H., Perez, J., Peris, T. S. 2022


    The burden of OCD in children and adolescents extends to their caregivers. Prior work in other disorders and unaffected youth has found synchrony in psychophysiological arousal for youth-caregiver dyads. This preliminary study explored whether psychophysiological trend synchrony in youth-caregiver dyads (N=48) occurred and was moderated by youth OCD diagnosis. We also explored whether psychophysiological indices (i.e., electrodermal activity, heart rate, respiratory sinus arrhythmia) were correlated with reported family functioning in the OCD subsample (n=25). Youth with OCD had higher resting heart rate than unaffected peers; this was not replicated in caregivers. Trend synchrony was found across the full sample of dyads for electrodermal activity and heart rate, with no moderation by diagnostic group. In the OCD group, youth heart rate was correlated with family conflict and caregiver heart rate with expressiveness. Findings provide preliminary support for further examination of heart rate and family factors in OCD-affected youth and their caregivers.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s10578-022-01426-4

    View details for PubMedID 36107282

  • Mean-level correspondence and moment-to-moment synchrony in adolescent and parent affect: Exploring associations with adolescent age and internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Development and psychopathology Henry, L. M., Watson, K. H., Cole, D. A., Torres, S., Vreeland, A., Siciliano, R. E., Anderson, A. S., Gruhn, M. A., Ciriegio, A., Broll, C., Ebert, J., Kuhn, T., Compas, B. E. 2022: 1-14


    Interactions with parents are integral in shaping the development of children's emotional processes. Important aspects of these interactions are overall (mean level) affective experience and affective synchrony (linkages between parent and child affect across time). Respectively, mean-level affect and affective synchrony reflect aspects of the content and structure of dyadic interactions. Most research on parent-child affect during dyadic interactions has focused on infancy and early childhood; adolescence, however, is a key period for both normative emotional development and the emergence of emotional disorders. We examined affect in early to mid-adolescents (N = 55, Mage = 12.27) and their parents using a video-mediated recall task of 10-min conflict-topic discussions. Using multilevel modeling, we found evidence of significant level-2 effects (mean affect) and level-1 effects (affective synchrony) for parents and their adolescents. Level-2 and level-1 associations were differentially moderated by adolescent age and adolescent internalizing and externalizing symptoms. More specifically, parent-adolescent synchrony was stronger when adolescents were older and had more internalizing problems. Further, more positive adolescent mean affect was associated with more positive parent affect (and vice versa), but only for dyads with low adolescent externalizing problems. Results underscore the importance of additional research examining parent-child affect in adolescence.

    View details for DOI 10.1017/S0954579422000062

    View details for PubMedID 35387703

  • Adverse childhood experiences, parenting, and socioeconomic status: Associations with internalizing and externalizing symptoms in adolescence. Child abuse & neglect Anderson, A. S., Siciliano, R. E., Henry, L. M., Watson, K. H., Gruhn, M. A., Kuhn, T. M., Ebert, J., Vreeland, A. J., Ciriegio, A. E., Guthrie, C., Compas, B. E. 2022; 125: 105493


    Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), low socioeconomic status (SES), and harsh parenting practices each represent well-established risk factors for mental health problems. However, research supporting these links has often focused on only one of these predictors and psychopathology, and interactions among these variables in association with symptoms are not well understood.The current study utilized a cross-sectional, multi-informant, and multi-method design to investigate the associations of ACEs, SES, parenting, and concurrent internalizing and externalizing problems in adolescents.Data are from a volunteer sample of 97 adolescents and their caregivers recruited from 2018 to 2021 in a southern U.S. metropolitan area to sample a range of exposure to ACEs.Multiple linear regression models were used to assess associations among adolescents' ACEs exposure, SES, observed parenting practices, and symptoms of internalizing and externalizing psychopathology.Lower SES was associated with higher levels of internalizing and externalizing symptoms, while higher ACEs exposure and observed parenting were related to externalizing but not internalizing symptoms. Associations of adolescents' exposure to physical abuse and perceived financial insecurity with externalizing symptoms were moderated by warm and supportive parenting behaviors. Conversely, harsh parenting was linked to increased levels of externalizing symptoms, particularly in the context of low income.Findings suggest that the presence of multiple risk factors may incur greater vulnerability to externalizing problems, while warm and supportive parenting practices may provide a buffer against externalizing problems for adolescents exposed to physical abuse. Links between ACEs, SES, parenting, and youth adjustment should continue to be explored, highlighting parenting as a potentially important and malleable intervention target.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.chiabu.2022.105493

    View details for PubMedID 35091303

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8826588

  • Shared and unique neural mechanisms underlying pediatric trichotillomania and obsessive compulsive disorder PSYCHIATRY RESEARCH Peris, T. S., Salgari, G., Perez, J., Jurgiel, J., Vreeland, A., O'Neill, J., Chang, S., Piacentini, J., Loo, S. K. 2021; 298: 113653


    Little is known about the neural underpinnings of pediatric trichotillomania (TTM). We examined error-related negativity (ERN)-amplitude and theta-EEG power differences among youth with TTM, OCD, and healthy controls (HC).Forty channel EEG was recorded from 63 pediatric participants (22 with TTM, 22 with OCD, and 19 HC) during the Eriksen Flanker Task. EEG data from inhibitory control were used to derive estimates of ERN amplitude and event-related spectral power associated with motor inhibition.TTM and HC were similar in brain activity patterns in frontal and central regions and TTM and OCD were similar in the parietal region. Frontal ERN-amplitude was significantly larger in OCD relative to TTM and HC, who did not differ from each other. The TTM group had higher theta power compared to OCD in frontal and central regions, and higher theta than both comparison groups in right motor cortex and superior parietal regions. Within TTM, flanker task performance was correlated with EEG activity in frontal, central, and motor cortices whereas global functioning and impairment were associated with EEG power in bilateral motor and parietal cortices.Findings are discussed in terms of shared and unique neural mechanisms in TTM and OCD and treatment implications.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113653

    View details for Web of Science ID 000634552600012

    View details for PubMedID 33621723

  • Does Parenting Explain the Link Between Cumulative SES Risk and Child Problems in the Context of Parental Depression? CHILD PSYCHIATRY & HUMAN DEVELOPMENT Sullivan, A. W., Forehand, R., Vreeland, A., Compas, B. E. 2022; 53 (2): 330-341


    The accumulation of socioeconomic stressors, such as being a single parent and having a limited income, is associated with childhood maladjustment and prospective poor health. Evidence suggests both positive and negative parenting strategies (e.g., warmth and praise; criticism and neglect) may account for the relationship between socioeconomic adversity and child outcomes. However, despite the common co-occurrence of parental depression and socioeconomic stress, models of cumulative socioeconomic risk and parenting have yet to be tested in parents who are also coping with depression. In a sample of children whose parents have a history of depression, this study extends findings from a previous report (i.e., Sullivan et al. in J Fam Psychol 33:883-893, 2019) to test whether behavioral observations of parenting account for the association between a cumulative risk index of socioeconomic stress and child psychological problems in the same sample of 179 children (Mage = 11.46 years, SDage = 2.00) of parents with depression. Both positive and negative parenting accounted for the relationship between socioeconomic risk and both child- and parent-reported externalizing problems, whereas no evidence emerged for parenting accounting for the relation between cumulative risk and internalizing problems. This study highlights the central role socioeconomic stress plays in child maladjustment among parents coping with depression, as well as how parenting may be a critical mechanism linking socioeconomic stress and child externalizing problems.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s10578-021-01130-9

    View details for Web of Science ID 000615761400001

    View details for PubMedID 33550457

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8346574

  • Neurochemical correlates of behavioral treatment of pediatric trichotillomania JOURNAL OF AFFECTIVE DISORDERS Peris, T. S., Piacentini, J., Vreeland, A., Salgari, G., Levitt, J. G., Alger, J. R., Posse, S., McCracken, J. T., O'Neill, J. 2020; 273: 552-561


    Trichotillomania (TTM) is a chronic and impairing psychiatric disorder with suspected dysfunctional cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical (CSTC) circuit activity reflecting excitatory/inhibitory signaling imbalance. TTM neurochemistry is understudied, with no prior research using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). This pilot investigation examined associations between TTM diagnosis, symptom severity, and response to behavioral treatment with MRS neurometabolites glutamate (Glu) and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in CSTC structures.Proton echo-planar spectroscopic imaging (PEPSI) MRS was acquired from bilateral pregenual anterior cingulate cortex (pACC), caudate, putamen, globus pallidus, thalamus, and proximal white matter in 10 unmedicated girls with TTM, ages 9-17 years, before and after treatment, and from 13 age- and sex-matched healthy controls.Nine of 10 TTM patients were treatment responders. Pretreatment mean Glu and GABA did not differ significantly between participants and controls. Pretreatment TTM symptoms were correlated with Glu in (left + right) pACC (r = 0.88, p = 0.02) and thalamus (r = 0.82, p = 0.012), and were negatively correlated with pACC GABA (r = -0.84, p = 0.034). Mean GABA in putamen increased 69% (baseline to post-treatment) (p = 0.027). Higher pretreatment Glu in caudate, putamen, globus pallidus, and thalamus predicted greater symptom decreases with treatment (all r < -0.6, p < 0.05); higher caudate GABA predicted less treatment-related symptom decline (r = 0.86, p = 0.014).Small sample, GABA quantified with spectral fitting rather than editing.Consistent with other neuroimaging, MRS reveals discrete CSTC chemical changes with effective behavior therapy, and possibly with TTM etiology. TTM symptoms relate to excess excitatory versus inhibitory signaling in pACC and thalamus; symptom improvement may reflect reduced excitatory drive of the CSTC direct-pathway activity.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jad.2020.04.061

    View details for Web of Science ID 000541424200029

    View details for PubMedID 32560953

  • Predictors of placement disruptions in foster care CHILD ABUSE & NEGLECT Vreeland, A., Ebert, J. S., Kuhn, T. M., Gracey, K. A., Shaffer, A. M., Watson, K. H., Gruhn, M. A., Henry, L., Dickey, L., Siciliano, R. E., Anderson, A., Compas, B. E. 2020; 99: 104283


    Many children who are removed from a dangerous or neglectful home and placed in state custody subsequently experience additional disruptions while in custody, which can compound the effects of ongoing stress and instability. As such, placement stability has been identified as a critical objective and a key indicator of success for children residing in substitutive care.To examine the utility of child protective services data in identifying predictors of placement disruption.The current study examined data from youth in Tennessee state custody who had been assessed using the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) assessment within 30-days of their first, out-of-home placement. The sample included 8,853 youth ages 5-19 years old (M = 13.1; SD = 4.0; 44.8 % female).Demographics, placement information, and the CANS assessment were collected by the Tennessee Department of Children's Services for all child welfare episodes for children as part of the system's usual standard of care. Bivariate correlation and linear regression models were conducted.Multiple risk indices from the CANS appeared to significantly increase risk of placement disruption, including child internalizing and externalizing symptoms, school difficulties, youth affect dysregulation, and child age.The current findings suggest that data collected as part of standard practice by child welfare workers such as the CANS is both feasible and has utility for identifying sources of risk for placement disruptions and to inform possible targets of intervention to enhance placement stability.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.chiabu.2019.104283

    View details for Web of Science ID 000507666600023

    View details for PubMedID 31765852

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7984659

  • Cumulative Socioeconomic Status Risk and Observations of Parent Depression: Are There Associations With Child Outcomes? JOURNAL OF FAMILY PSYCHOLOGY Sullivan, A. D., Benoit, R., Breslend, N. L., Vreeland, A., Compas, B., Forehand, R. 2019; 33 (8): 883-893


    Parental depression (Goodman et al., 2011) and low socioeconomic status (SES) are important risk factors for child maladjustment. Further, depression and low SES are linked; low SES adults are more likely to experience depression. Whereas studies commonly covary out noise associated with SES variability, research on the association of SES with child outcomes after controlling for parental depression is limited. This study aimed to extend the literature by observing parent depressive affect and evaluating the relationship between cumulative SES risk and child problems as well as whether child gender moderates this association using multigroup nested model comparisons. Findings suggested that cumulative SES risk status explained significant variance in child- and parent-reported internalizing problems and parent-reported externalizing problems after accounting for observed parent depressive affect. Of importance, child gender moderated 2 of these significant findings (i.e., child-reported internalizing and parent-reported externalizing behaviors), such that girls, but not boys, were at higher risk of problems in the context of high cumulative SES risk. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

    View details for DOI 10.1037/fam0000567

    View details for Web of Science ID 000498808800001

    View details for PubMedID 31414864

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7533825

  • Laboratory and Self-Report Methods to Assess Reappraisal and Distraction in Youth JOURNAL OF CLINICAL CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PSYCHOLOGY Bettis, A. H., Henry, L., Prussien, K. V., Vreeland, A., Smith, M., Adery, L. H., Compas, B. E. 2019; 48 (6): 855-865


    Coping and emotion regulation are central features of risk and resilience in childhood and adolescence, but research on these constructs has relied on different methods of assessment. The current study aimed to bridge the gap between questionnaire and experimental methods of measuring secondary control coping strategies, specifically distraction and cognitive reappraisal, and examine associations with symptoms of anxiety and depression in youth. A community sample of 70 youth (ages 9-15) completed a novel experimental coping and emotion regulation paradigm and self-report measures of coping and emotion regulation and symptoms. Findings indicate that use of distraction and reappraisal during the laboratory paradigm was associated with lower levels of negative emotion during the task. Youth emotion ratings while implementing distraction, but not reappraisal, during the laboratory task were associated with youth self-reported use of secondary control coping in response to family stress. Youth symptoms of anxiety and depression were also significantly positively associated with negative emotion ratings during the laboratory task, and both laboratory task and self-reported coping and emotion regulation accounted for significant variance in symptoms in youth. Both questionnaire and laboratory methods to assess coping and emotion regulation in youth are important for understanding these processes as possible mechanisms of risk and resilience and continued integration of these methods is a priority for future research.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/15374416.2018.1466306

    View details for Web of Science ID 000497197000004

    View details for PubMedID 29877730

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6449215

  • Family functioning in pediatric trichotillomania, obsessive compulsive disorder, and healthy comparison youth PSYCHIATRY RESEARCH Peris, T. S., Rozenman, M., Gonzalez, A., Vreeland, A., Piacentini, J., Tan, P. Z., Ricketts, E. J. 2019; 281: 112578


    Pediatric trichotillomania (TTM) is an understudied condition that can be highly impairing; little is known about family environmental features that shape its development and course. We examined family functioning among age and gender-matched groups of youth with primary TTM (n = 30; mean age = 12.87), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD; n = 30; mean age = 12.70), and no psychiatric history (healthy controls; HC; n = 30; mean age = 12.46). An additional group of n = 25 TTM cases was employed to examine relationships between TTM severity and family functioning. All youth completed standardized diagnostic assessment, including the Family Environment Scale (FES) and Children's Report of Parenting Behavior Inventory (CRPBI). Family functioning was more impaired among both TTM and OCD cases relative to controls, as evidenced by higher levels of child-reported FES conflict and lower cohesion, expressiveness, and organization. Less consistent findings emerged on parent report, with cohesion, but not conflict, distinguishing the HC and clinical groups. In keeping with prior research, parents of TTM-affected youth also reported lower expressiveness and cohesion than parents in the OCD group. There was limited evidence for links between hair-pulling severity and family impairment and no links to parenting behavior. Findings are discussed in terms of implications for family focused treatment.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.psychres.2019.112578

    View details for Web of Science ID 000497252200036

    View details for PubMedID 31586836

  • Coping and Stress Reactivity as Moderators of Maternal Depressive Symptoms and Youth's Internalizing and Externalizing Symptoms JOURNAL OF YOUTH AND ADOLESCENCE Vreeland, A., Bettis, A. H., Reising, M. M., Dunbar, J. P., Watson, K. H., Gruhn, M. A., Compas, B. E. 2019; 48 (8): 1580-1591


    Youth's responses to stress are a central feature of risk and resilience across development. The current study examined whether youth coping and stress reactivity moderate the association of current maternal depressive symptoms with youth's internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Mothers (Mage = 41.58, SD = 6.18) with a wide range of depressive symptoms and their children ages 9-15 (Mage = 12.25, SD = 1.89, 45.3% girls) completed measures of youth symptoms and coping and automatic responses to stress. Mothers also completed a self-report measure of depressive symptoms. Youth's primary and secondary control coping, stress reactivity, and involuntary disengagement moderated the association between current maternal depressive symptoms and youth symptoms. Maternal depressive symptoms were associated with youth's internalizing and externalizing symptoms when youth used low as opposed to high levels of primary and secondary control coping. Conversely, maternal depressive symptoms were associated with youth symptoms for youth with high levels of stress reactivity and involuntary disengagement. The findings suggest interventions focused on improving the use of primary and secondary control coping skills and reducing reactivity and involuntary disengagement to stress may benefit youth with mothers who are experiencing high levels of depressive symptoms.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s10964-019-01033-y

    View details for Web of Science ID 000475855400011

    View details for PubMedID 31134560

  • Parenting in Context: Associations of Parental Depression and Socioeconomic Factors with Parenting Behaviors JOURNAL OF CHILD AND FAMILY STUDIES Vreeland, A., Gruhn, M. A., Watson, K. H., Bettis, A. H., Compas, B. E., Forehand, R., Sullivan, A. D. 2019; 28 (4): 1124-1133
  • Parent reports of children's working memory, coping, and emotional/behavioral adjustment in pediatric brain tumor patients: A pilot study CHILD NEUROPSYCHOLOGY Desjardins, L., Thigpen, J. C., Kobritz, M., Bettis, A. H., Gruhn, M. A., Ichinose, M., Hoskinson, K., Fraley, C., Vreeland, A., McNally, C., Compas, B. E. 2018; 24 (7): 959-974


    Neurocognitive problems in childhood survivors of brain tumors are well documented. Further, research has shown that problems in cognitive functioning may be associated with impairment in the use of complex strategies needed to cope with stress, including secondary control coping strategies (e.g., acceptance and cognitive reappraisal) which have been associated with fewer adjustment problems. The present study measured cognitive function, coping strategies, and adjustment in children ages 6-16 years at the time of brain tumor diagnosis and at two follow-up time-points up to 1 year post-diagnosis. In a prospective design, working memory was assessed in a total of 29 pediatric brain tumor patients prior to undergoing surgery, child self-reported coping was assessed at 6 months post-diagnosis, and parent-reported child adjustment was assessed at 12 months post-diagnosis. Significant correlations were found between working memory difficulties and secondary control coping. Secondary control coping was also negatively correlated with child attention and total problems. Regression analyses did not support secondary control coping mediating the association between working memory difficulties and child attention or total problems. These findings represent the first longitudinal assessment of the association between working memory, coping, and adjustment across the first year of a child's brain tumor diagnosis and suggest a possible role for early interventions addressing both working memory difficulties and coping in children with brain tumors.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/09297049.2017.1365828

    View details for Web of Science ID 000439970300005

    View details for PubMedID 28969482

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6529943

  • The tell-tale heart: physiological reactivity during resolution of ambiguity in youth anxiety COGNITION & EMOTION Rozenman, M., Vreeland, A., Iglesias, M., Mendez, M., Piacentini, J. 2018; 32 (2): 389-396


    In the past decade, cognitive biases and physiological arousal have each been proposed as mechanisms through which paediatric anxiety develops and is maintained over time. Preliminary studies have found associations between anxious interpretations of ambiguity, physiological arousal, and avoidance, supporting theories that link cognition, psychophysiology, and behaviour. However, little is known about the relationship between youths' resolutions of ambiguity and physiological arousal during acute stress. Such information may have important clinical implications for use of verbal self-regulation strategies and cognitive restructuring during treatments for paediatric anxiety. In this brief report, we present findings suggesting that anxious, but not typically developing, youth select avoidant goals via non-threatening resolution of ambiguity during a stressor, and that this resolution of ambiguity is accompanied by physiological reactivity (heart rate, heart rate variability, and respiratory sinus arrhythmia). We propose future empirical research on the interplay between interpretation bias, psychophysiology, and child anxiety, as well as clinical implications.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/02699931.2017.1289152

    View details for Web of Science ID 000427685400014

    View details for PubMedID 28278737

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5875919

  • Glutamate in Pediatric Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Response to Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: Randomized Clinical Trial NEUROPSYCHOPHARMACOLOGY O'Neill, J., Piacentini, J., Chang, S., Ly, R., Lai, T. M., Armstrong, C. C., Bergman, L., Rozenman, M., Peris, T., Vreeland, A., Mudgway, R., Levitt, J. G., Salamon, N., Posse, S., Hellemann, G. S., Alger, J. R., McCracken, J. T., Nurmi, E. L. 2017; 42 (12): 2414-2422


    Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective for pediatric obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but non-response is common. Brain glutamate (Glu) signaling may contribute to OCD pathophysiology and moderate CBT outcomes. We assessed whether Glu measured with magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) was associated with OCD and/or CBT response. Youths aged 7-17 years with DSM-IV OCD and typically developing controls underwent 3 T proton echo-planar spectroscopic imaging (PEPSI) MRS scans of pregenual anterior cingulate cortex (pACC) and ventral posterior cingulate cortex (vPCC)-regions possibly affected by OCD-at baseline. Controls returned for re-scan after 8 weeks. OCD youth-in a randomized rater-blinded trial-were re-scanned after 12-14 weeks of CBT or after 8 weeks of minimal-contact waitlist; waitlist participants underwent a third scan after crossover to 12-14 weeks of CBT. Forty-nine children with OCD (mean age 12.2±2.9 years) and 29 controls (13.2±2.2 years) provided at least one MRS scan. At baseline, Glu did not differ significantly between OCD and controls in pACC or vPCC. Within controls, Glu was stable from scan-to-scan. Within OCD subjects, a treatment-by-scan interaction (p=0.034) was observed, driven by pACC Glu dropping 19.5% from scan-to-scan for patients randomized to CBT, with minor increases (3.8%) for waitlist participants. The combined OCD participants (CBT-only plus waitlist-CBT) also showed a 16.2% (p=0.004) post-CBT decrease in pACC Glu. In the combined OCD group, within vPCC, lower pre-CBT Glu predicted greater post-CBT improvement in symptoms (CY-BOCS; r=0.81, p=0.00025). Glu may be involved in the pathophysiology of OCD and may moderate response to CBT.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/npp.2017.77

    View details for Web of Science ID 000412903200015

    View details for PubMedID 28409563

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5645751

  • Thinking anxious, feeling anxious, or both? Cognitive bias moderates the relationship between anxiety disorder status and sympathetic arousal in youth JOURNAL OF ANXIETY DISORDERS Rozenman, M., Vreeland, A., Piacentini, J. 2017; 45: 34-42


    Cognitive bias and physiological arousal are two putative markers that may underlie youth anxiety. However, data on relationships between cognitive bias and arousal are limited, and typically do not include behavioral measurement of these constructs in order to tap real-time processes. We aimed to examine the relationship between performance-based cognitive bias and sympathetic arousal during stress in clinically anxious and typically-developing youth. The sample included children and adolescents ages 9 to 17 (Mean age=13.18, SD=2.60) who either met diagnostic criteria for primary generalized anxiety, social phobia, or separation anxiety (N=24) or healthy controls who had no history of psychopathology (N=22). Youth completed performance-based measures of attention and interpretation bias. Electrodermal activity was assessed while youth participated in the Trier Social Stress Test for Children (TSST-C; Buske-Kirschbaum, Jobst, & Wustmans, 1997). A mixed models analysis indicated significant linear and non-linear changes in skin conductance, with similar slopes for both groups. Interpretation bias, but not attention bias, moderated the relationship between group status and sympathetic arousal during the TSST-C. Arousal trajectories did not differ for anxious and healthy control youth who exhibited high levels of threat interpretation bias. However, for youth who exhibited moderate and low levels of interpretation bias, the anxious group demonstrated greater arousal slopes than healthy control youth. Results provide initial evidence that the relationship between anxiety status and physiological arousal during stress may be moderated by level of interpretation bias for threat. These findings may implicate interpretation bias as a marker of sympathetic reactivity in youth. Implications for future research and limitations are discussed.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.janxdis.2016.11.004

    View details for Web of Science ID 000392794100005

    View details for PubMedID 27923164

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5863750

  • Parental Anxiety as a Predictor of Medication and CBT Response for Anxious Youth CHILD PSYCHIATRY & HUMAN DEVELOPMENT Gonzalez, A., Peris, T. S., Vreeland, A., Kiff, C. J., Kendall, P. C., Compton, S. N., Albano, A., Birmaher, B., Ginsburg, G. S., Keeton, C. P., March, J., McCracken, J., Rynn, M., Sherrill, J., Walkup, J. T., Piacentini, J. 2015; 46 (1): 84-93


    The aim of this investigation was to evaluate how parental anxiety predicted change in pediatric anxiety symptoms across four different interventions: cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication (sertraline; SRT), their combination (COMB), and pill placebo. Participants were 488 youths (ages 7-17) with separation anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and/or social phobia and their primary caregivers. Latent growth curve modeling assessed how pre-treatment parental trait anxiety symptoms predicted trajectories of youth anxiety symptom change across 12 weeks of treatment at four time points. Interactions between parental anxiety and treatment condition were tested. Parental anxiety was not associated with youth's pre-treatment anxiety symptom severity. Controlling for parental trait anxiety, youth depressive symptoms, and youth age, youths who received COMB benefitted most. Counter to expectations, parental anxiety influenced youth anxiety symptom trajectory only within the SRT condition, whereas parental anxiety was not significantly associated with youth anxiety trajectories in the other treatment conditions. Specifically, within the SRT condition, higher levels of parental anxiety predicted a faster and greater reduction in youth anxiety over the acute treatment period compared to youths in the SRT condition whose parents had lower anxiety levels. While all active treatments produced favorable outcomes, results provide insight regarding the treatment-specific influence of parental anxiety on the time course of symptom change.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s10578-014-0454-6

    View details for Web of Science ID 000348359400009

    View details for PubMedID 24610431

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4159442