Associations Between Resting-State Functional Connectivity and a Hierarchical Dimensional Structure of Psychopathology in Middle Childhood

Nicole R. Karcher, Giorgia Michelini, Roman Kotov, Deanna M. Barch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Previous research from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study delineated and validated a hierarchical 5-factor structure with a general psychopathology (p) factor at the apex and 5 specific factors (internalizing, somatoform, detachment, neurodevelopmental, externalizing) using parent-reported child symptoms. The present study is the first to examine associations between dimensions from a hierarchical structure and resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) networks. Methods: Using 9- to 11-year-old children from the ABCD Study baseline sample, we examined the variance explained by each hierarchical structure level (p-factor, 2-factor, 3-factor, 4-factor, and 5-factor models) in associations with RSFC. Analyses were first conducted in a discovery dataset (n = 3790), and significant associations were examined in a replication dataset (n = 3791). Results: There were robust associations between the p-factor and lower connectivity within the default mode network, although stronger effects emerged for the neurodevelopmental factor. Neurodevelopmental impairments were also related to variation in RSFC networks associated with attention to internal states and external stimuli. Analyses revealed robust associations between the neurodevelopmental dimension and several RSFC metrics, including within the default mode network, between the default mode network with cingulo-opercular and “Other” (unassigned) networks, and between the dorsal attention network with the Other network. Conclusions: The hierarchical structure of psychopathology showed replicable links to RSFC associations in middle childhood. The specific neurodevelopmental dimension showed robust associations with multiple RSFC metrics. These results show the utility of examining associations between intrinsic brain architecture and specific dimensions of psychopathology, revealing associations especially with neurodevelopmental impairments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)508-517
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Functional connectivity
  • Hierarchical structure
  • Neurodevelopmental
  • Psychopathology
  • Resting-state
  • p-factor


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