Objective Alterations in the normal developmental trajectory of amygdala resting state functional connectivity (rs-FC) have been associated with atypical emotional processes and psychopathology. Little is known, however, regarding amygdala rs-FC at birth or its relevance to outcomes. This study examined amygdala rs-FC in healthy, full-term (FT) infants and in very preterm (VPT) infants, and tested whether variability of neonatal amygdala rs-FC predicted internalizing symptoms at age 2 years. Method Resting state fMRI data were obtained shortly after birth from 65 FT infants (gestational age [GA] ≥36 weeks) and 57 VPT infants (GA <30 weeks) at term equivalent. Voxelwise correlation analyses were performed using individual-specific bilateral amygdala regions of interest. Total internalizing symptoms and the behavioral inhibition, depression/withdrawal, general anxiety, and separation distress subdomains were assessed in a subset (n = 44) at age 2 years using the Infant Toddler Social Emotional Assessment. Results In FT and VPT infants, the amygdala demonstrated positive correlations with subcortical and limbic structures and negative correlations with cortical regions, although magnitudes were decreased in VPT infants. Neonatal amygdala rs-FC predicted internalizing symptoms at age 2 years with regional specificity consistent with known pathophysiology in older populations: connectivity with the anterior insula related to depressive symptoms, with the dorsal anterior cingulate related to generalized anxiety, and with the medial prefrontal cortex related to behavioral inhibition. Conclusion Amygdala rs-FC is well established in neonates. Variability in regional neonatal amygdala rs-FC predicted internalizing symptoms at 2 years, suggesting that risk for internalizing symptoms may be established in neonatal amygdala functional connectivity patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-166
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • amygdala
  • functional connectivity
  • infant
  • internalizing


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