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79. Anatomical and functional connectivity between rostral anterior cingulate cortex and amygdala predicted first onset of depressive disorders in adolescence
Depressive disorders (DD) typically emerge during adolescence and are diagnosed about twice as often in girls as in boys. Our prior work using diffusion tensor imaging has shown that reduced structural connectivity between rostral cingulate cortex (rACC) and amygdala predicts the first onset of DD in adolescent females in a longitudinal study (over 27 month-interval). In the present study, we used psychophysiological interaction (PPI, CITE) analysis to examine whether functional connectivity (FC) between these regions, while processing emotional vs. neutral faces, could predict later DD diagnosis in adolescent females (N=179). To do so, we conducted a voxelwise independent-sample t-test comparing PPI connectivity estimates of groups with and without DD diagnosis while controlling for baseline depression symptoms, history of anxiety disorders, parental history of depression, low parental education, and age. Using anatomical rACC and amygdala regions of interest, our results showed that girls who developed DD showed higher FC between amygdala and rACC for emotional compared to neutral faces, contrasting girls who did not develop DD. Our FC findings predicted future risk of DD not only replicate our structural connectivity findings but also indicate that rACC-amygdala connectivity is a robust neural risk-factor for first onset of DD. Present findings also suggest the importance of prevention strategies targeting impaired rACC-amygdala functional and anatomical connectivity.