Neural signatures of data-driven psychopathology dimensions at the transition to adolescence

Amirhossein Modabbernia, Giorgia Michelini, Abraham Reichenberg, Roman Kotov, Deanna Barch, Sophia Frangou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background One of the challenges in human neuroscience is to uncover associations between brain organization and psychopathology in order to better understand the biological underpinnings of mental disorders. Here, we aimed to characterize the neural correlates of psychopathology dimensions obtained using two conceptually different data-driven approaches. Methods Dimensions of psychopathology that were either maximally dissociable or correlated were respectively extracted by independent component analysis (ICA) and exploratory factor analysis (EFA) applied to the Childhood Behavior Checklist items from 9-to 10-year-olds (n = 9983; 47.8% female, 50.8% white) participating in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study. The patterns of brain morphometry, white matter integrity and resting-state connectivity associated with each dimension were identified using kernel-based regularized least squares and compared between dimensions using Spearman's correlation coefficient. Results ICA identified three psychopathology dimensions, representing opposition-disinhibition, cognitive dyscontrol, and negative affect, with distinct brain correlates. Opposition-disinhibition was negatively associated with cortical surface area, cognitive dyscontrol was negatively associated with anatomical and functional dysconnectivity while negative affect did not show discernable associations with any neuroimaging measure. EFA identified three dimensions representing broad externalizing, neurodevelopmental, and broad Internalizing problems with partially overlapping brain correlates. All EFA-derived dimensions were negatively associated with cortical surface area, whereas measures of functional and structural connectivity were associated only with the neurodevelopmental dimension. Conclusions This study highlights the importance of cortical surface area and global connectivity for psychopathology in preadolescents and provides evidence for dissociable psychopathology dimensions with distinct brain correlates.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere8
JournalEuropean Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 24 2022


  • Adolescence
  • development
  • neuroimaging
  • population neuroscience
  • psychopathology


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