Developmental trajectories of the orbitofrontal cortex and anhedonia in middle childhood and risk for substance use in adolescence in a longitudinal sample of depressed and healthy preschoolers

Joan L. Luby, Arpana Agrawal, Andy Belden, Diana Whalen, Rebecca Tillman, Deanna M. Barch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Deficits in reward processing are established in mood and substance use disorders and are known risk factors for these disorders. Volume reductions of the orbitofrontal cortex and the striatum, regions that subserve neural response to reward, have been shown to be related to anhedonia in depressive and substance use disorders. The authors sought to investigate how structural maturation of these regions in childhood varies with level of anhedonia and predicts later substance use. Method: The study employed data from a sample of depressed and healthy preschoolers studied longitudinally that included three waves of neuroimaging from school age to adolescence. Three years after scan 3, at ages 13-18, participants underwent a comprehensive behavioral and substance use assessment. Multilevel modeling was used to investigate the relationship between anhedonia and the growth trajectories of the striatum and orbitofrontal cortex. Zero-inflated Poisson regression models were then used to determine whether the intercepts and slopes of these trajectories predicted later alcohol and marijuana use frequency in adolescence. Results: The anhedonia-by-age interaction was significant in the multilevel modeling of orbitofrontal cortical but not striatal volume. Higher anhedonia ratings were significantly associated with steeper decline in orbitofrontal cortical volume with age. Orbitofrontal cortical volume and thickness at age 12 and trajectory over time significantly and negatively predicted subsequent alcohol and marijuana use frequency but not depression during adolescence. Conclusions: The findings suggest that the development of the orbitofrontal cortex during childhood is strongly linked to experiences of anhedonia and that these growth trajectories predict substance use during a developmentally critical period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1010-1021
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Volume175
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2018

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