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Brain function and pubertal development during social exclusion in youth with varying depression
Methods: Adolescents (N=126, Ages 13-17) underwent the “Cyberball” Task. They were led to believe that they were excluded and included for 30 seconds by pre-programmed “peers” during a ball game. Participants varied in depressive symptoms, number of episodes and puberty. Depressed had higher levels of pubertal development. Regression analyses (controlling for indexes such as severity, chronicity, age and gender) explored the effects of pubertal stage and its interaction with depression indexes in brain function during exclusion versus inclusion conditions. Results: Pubertal development was associated to higher activity in the superior frontal gyrus (BA8,6) for exclusion versus inclusion in the whole sample and among depressed. However, higher pubertal development was associated to superior and mid-temporal gyri activity for exclusion versus inclusion among healthy adolescents. An interaction of puberty by number of depression episodes suggested that higher number of episodes was associated with higher hippocampus, middle and superior temporal gyrus, putamen and amygdala activity for exclusion versus inclusion. Discussion: Puberty may be associated to different neural activity loci during social cognition depending on levels of depressive symptoms. Future analysis will examine correlations between brain activity and social and emotional regulation skills to understand the psychological meaning of our results.