Exploring neural correlates of depression in childhood: The relation between amygdala:hippocampus ratios and CDI depression scores in 4-8 year olds
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Nationally representative studies have shown that mood disorders such as depression and anxiety are widely prevalent in children, with depression acting as one of the leading causes of disability in the United States (Ghandour et al., 2018; Schmaal et al., 2016). Research on adults suggests that depression and mood regulation can be linked to brain structure and function, specifically abnormalities with the amygdala and hippocampus (Yavas et al., 2019; Gerritsen et al., 2012). Interestingly, these brain regions have been shown to undergo structural and functional changes in early childhood that correspond with critical developmental changes in behavior (e.g., Riggins et al., 2018; Stern et al., 2019). Despite these changes, there is very little research investigating the relation between the brain and depressive symptoms in children, particularly during early childhood. Furthering the understanding of the relation between structural changes in brain and depressive symptoms is critically important not only for addressing high rates of childhood depression, but also for understanding the etiology and course of depression from early childhood into adulthood. This information could inform future intervention strategies and improve our understanding of normative and non-normative development in early childhood. This study aims to fill this gap by assessing the association between amygdala and hippocampus volumes and depressive symptoms cross sectionally and longitudinally in children ages 4-8 years.