Higher Connectivity of Brain Networks Linked to Increased Risk of Psychopathology

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Maxwell Elliott Clinical psychology PhD student Working with Ahmad Hariri and the Moffitt & Caspi lab Duke University

Maxwell Elliott

Maxwell Elliott
Clinical psychology PhD student
Working with Ahmad Hariri and the Moffitt & Caspi lab
Duke University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The traditional clinical science model identifies individuals who meet specific criteria for mental illness diagnoses (e.g. Depression, Anxiety) and compares them to “healthy” controls to find brain correlates of mental illness.  However, this approach often overlooks the high rates of comorbidity and shared symptamatology across mental illnesses. Emerging research has identified a general factor of psychopathology that accounts for shared risk among internalizing, externalizing, and thought disorders across diverse samples.

This general factor of psychopathology has been called the p-factor. In our study we investigate the brain correlates of the p-factor using a data-driven analysis of resting state functional connectivity. We find that higher p-factor scores and associated risk for common mental illness maps onto hyper-connectivity between visual association cortex and both frontoparietal and default mode networks.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?\\

Response: Our research demonstrates initial evidence that the common risk for all mental illness is related to the function of the brain. Specifically higher risk for all forms of mental illness was related to higher intrinsic connectivity between visual association cortex and both frontoparietal and default mode networks.  Such hyper-connectivity suggests that increased risk for psychopathology may be manifest as greater effortful or less efficient executive control as well as poor regulation of self-referential information processing. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future research should extend our analyses to more diverse populations including individuals with severe mental illness. Our analyses were limited to a sample of college-aged individuals who did not have diagnosed thought disorder. More research is needed to replicate our analyses in datasets with thought-disorders and across the lifespan.
No disclosures.

Citation:

  1. A Connectome Wide Functional Signature of Transdiagnostic Risk for Mental Illness
    Maxwell L. Elliott, Adrienne L. Romer, Annchen R. Knodt, Ahmad R. Hariri
    doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/196220
    BioRxiv
    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/03/25/196220

2. Link below to the published version of the manuscript at Biological Psychiatry:  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006322318314161

 

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