Individual differences in threat and reward neural circuitry activation: Testing dimensional models of early adversity, anxiety and depression

Katherine S. Young*, Camilla Ward, Meghan Vinograd, Kelly Chen, Susan Y. Bookheimer, Robin Nusslock, Richard E. Zinbarg, Michelle G. Craske

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Altered functioning of the brain's threat and reward circuitry has been linked to early life adversity and to symptoms of anxiety and depression. To date, however, these relationships have been studied largely in isolation and in categorical-based approaches. It is unclear to what extent early life adversity and psychopathology have unique effects on brain functioning during threat and reward processing. We examined functional brain activity during a face processing task in threat (amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex) and reward (ventral striatum and orbitofrontal cortex) regions of interest among a sample (N = 103) of young adults (aged 18–19 years) in relation to dimensional measures of early life adversity and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Results demonstrated a significant association between higher scores on the deprivation adversity dimension and greater activation of reward neural circuitry during viewing of happy faces, with the largest effect sizes observed in the orbitofrontal cortex. We found no significant associations between the threat adversity dimension, or symptom dimensions of anxiety and depression, and neural activation in threat or reward circuitries. These results lend partial support to theories of adversity-related alterations in neural activation and highlight the importance of testing dimensional models of adversity and psychopathology in large sample sizes to further our understanding of the biological processes implicated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2739-2753
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Volume55
Issue number9-10
Early online date19 Jan 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

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