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Empirically-derived internalizing psychopathology factors are linked to structural brain imaging data
Empirically-derived, dimensional models of psychopathology hold great promise compared to categorical diagnoses, but empirical data on their utility in still limited. The current research aimed to evaluate the extent to which the associations between structural gray matter and psychopathology is explained by empirically-derived dimensions of psychopathology and diagnostic categories. Participants included 478 6-to-10-year-olds (Mage = 8.58; 64.9% male) from the Healthy Brain Network. A series of confirmatory factor models were fitted to data on lifetime psychiatric symptom counts assessed with the Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia. Internalizing factors and diagnoses were included in regressions to predict T1 structural MRI GM volume. A two-factor solution including fear and distress fit the data well. Distinct neuroanatomical correlates for internalizing subfactors emerged. For example, an effect for fear (β = -.25) but not distress (β = .15) emerged when predicting hippocampal volume but neither dimension evidenced a meaningful association with amygdala volume. The addition of none of the individual categorical diagnoses improved model fit. Results underscore the potential for empirically-derived dimensional models of psychopathology to interface with neurobiological systems. Given the recent development of the HiTOP model, an integrative, empirically-derived dimensional model of psychopathology now exists to support these pursuits.