Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences - Research Publications

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    Early life stress alters pituitary growth during adolescence-A longitudinal study
    Ganella, DE ; Allen, NB ; Simmons, JG ; Schwartz, O ; Kim, JH ; Sheeber, L ; Whittle, S (PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD, 2015-03)
    The pituitary gland is integral in mediating the stress-response via its role in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function. Pituitary gland volume (PGV) is altered in stress-related psychopathology, and one study to date has shown stress to be associated with age-related PGV change during adolescence. The current study investigated the effects of a number of different types of early life (i.e., childhood and adolescent) stress (including childhood maltreatment, stressful life events, and maternal affective behavior) on PGV development from mid- to late adolescence using a longitudinal design. The influence of PGV development on depressive and anxiety symptoms was also investigated. Ninety one (49 male) adolescents took part in mother-child dyadic interaction tasks when they were approximately 12 years old, reported on childhood maltreatment and stressful life events when they were approximately 15 years old, and underwent two waves of structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, when they were approximately 16 and 19 years old. Results revealed that childhood maltreatment predicted accelerated PGV development in females, and maternal dysphoric behavior predicted accelerated PGV development in the whole sample. PGV development was not associated with depressive or anxiety symptoms. These results suggest an effect of early life stress on altered HPA axis function across mid- to late adolescence. Further research is required to assess functional implications and whether these changes might be associated with risk for subsequent psychopathology.
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    Cognitive Control as a Moderator of Temperamental Motivations Toward Adolescent Risk-Taking Behavior
    Youssef, GJ ; Whittle, S ; Allen, NB ; Lubman, DI ; Simmons, JG ; Yuecel, M (WILEY, 2016)
    Few studies have directly examined whether cognitive control can moderate the influence of temperamental positive and negative affective traits on adolescent risk-taking behavior. Using a combined multimethod, latent variable approach to the assessment of adolescent risk-taking behavior and cognitive control, this study examined whether cognitive control moderates the influence of temperamental surgency and frustration on risk-taking behavior in a sample of 177 adolescents (Mage = 16.12 years, SD = 0.69). As predicted, there was a significant interaction between cognitive control and frustration, but not between cognitive control and surgency, in predicting risk-taking behavior. These findings have important implications and suggest that the determinants of adolescent risk taking depend on the valence of the affective motivation for risk-taking behavior.
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    Task-related deactivation and functional connectivity of the subgenual cingulate cortex in major depressive disorder.
    Davey, CG ; Yücel, M ; Allen, NB ; Harrison, BJ (Frontiers Media SA, 2012)
    BACKGROUND: Major depressive disorder is associated with functional alterations in activity and resting-state connectivity of the extended medial frontal network. In this study we aimed to examine how task-related medial network activity and connectivity were affected in depression. METHODS: 18 patients with major depressive disorder, aged 15- to 24-years-old, were matched with 19 healthy control participants. We characterized task-related activations and deactivations while participants engaged with an executive-control task (the multi-source interference task, MSIT). We used a psycho-physiological interactions approach to examine functional connectivity changes with subgenual anterior cingulate cortex. Voxel-wise statistical maps for each analysis were compared between the patient and control groups. RESULTS: There were no differences between groups in their behavioral performances on the MSIT task, and nor in patterns of activation and deactivation. Assessment of functional connectivity with the subgenual cingulate showed that depressed patients did not demonstrate the same reduction in functional connectivity with the ventral striatum during task performance, but that they showed greater reduction in functional connectivity with adjacent ventromedial frontal cortex. The magnitude of this latter connectivity change predicted the relative activation of task-relevant executive-control regions in depressed patients. CONCLUSION: The study reinforces the importance of the subgenual cingulate cortex for depression, and demonstrates how dysfunctional connectivity with ventral brain regions might influence executive-attentional processes.
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    Study protocol: the Childhood to Adolescence Transition Study (CATS)
    Mundy, LK ; Simmons, JG ; Allen, NB ; Viner, RM ; Bayer, JK ; Olds, T ; Williams, J ; Olsson, C ; Romaniuk, H ; Mensah, F ; Sawyer, SM ; Degenhardt, L ; Alati, R ; Wake, M ; Jacka, F ; Patton, GC (BMC, 2013-10-08)
    BACKGROUND: Puberty is a multifaceted developmental process that begins in late-childhood with a cascade of endocrine changes that ultimately lead to sexual maturation and reproductive capability. The transition through puberty is marked by an increased risk for the onset of a range of health problems, particularly those related to the control of behaviour and emotion. Early onset puberty is associated with a greater risk of cancers of the reproductive tract and cardiovascular disease. Previous studies have had methodological limitations and have tended to view puberty as a unitary process, with little distinction between adrenarche, gonadarche and linear growth. The Childhood to Adolescence Transition Study (CATS) aims to prospectively examine associations between the timing and stage of the different hormonally-mediated changes, as well as the onset and course of common health and behavioural problems that emerge in the transition from childhood to adolescence. The initial focus of CATS is on adrenarche, the first hormonal process in the pubertal cascade, which begins for most children at around 8 years of age. METHODS/DESIGN: CATS is a longitudinal population-based cohort study. All Grade 3 students (8-9 years of age) from a stratified cluster sample of schools in Melbourne, Australia were invited to take part. In total, 1239 students and a parent/guardian were recruited to participate in the study. Measures are repeated annually and comprise student, parent and teacher questionnaires, and student anthropometric measurements. A saliva sample was collected from students at baseline and will be repeated at later waves, with the primary purpose of measuring hormonal indices of adrenarche and gonadarche. DISCUSSION: CATS is uniquely placed to capture biological and phenotypic indices of the pubertal process from its earliest manifestations, together with anthropometric measures and assessment of child health and development. The cohort will provide rich detail of the development, lifestyle, external circumstances and health of children during the transition from childhood through to adolescence. Baseline associations between the hormonal measures and measures of mental health and behaviour will initially be examined cross-sectionally, and then in later waves longitudinally. CATS will make a unique contribution to the understanding of adrenarche and puberty in children's health and development.
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    Development of temperamental effortful control mediates the relationship between maturation of the prefrontal cortex and psychopathology during adolescence: A 4-year longitudinal study
    Vijayakumar, N ; Whittle, S ; Dennison, M ; Yuecel, M ; Simmons, J ; Allen, NB (ELSEVIER SCI LTD, 2014-07)
    This study investigated the relationship between the development of effortful control (EC), a temperamental measure of self-regulation, and concurrent development of three regions of the prefrontal cortex (anterior cingulate cortex, ACC; dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, dlPFC; ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, vlPFC) between early- and mid-adolescence. It also examined whether development of EC mediated the relationship between cortical maturation and emotional and behavioral symptoms. Ninety-two adolescents underwent baseline assessments when they were approximately 12 years old and follow-up assessments approximately 4 years later. At each assessment, participants had MRI scans and completed the Early Adolescent Temperament Questionnaire-Revised, as well as measures of depressive and anxious symptoms, and aggressive and risk taking behavior. Cortical thicknesses of the ACC, dlPFC and vlPFC, estimated using the FreeSurfer software, were found to decrease over time. EC also decreased over time in females. Greater thinning of the left ACC was associated with less reduction in EC. Furthermore, change in effortful control mediated the relationship between greater thinning of the left ACC and improvements in socioemotional functioning, including reductions in psychopathological symptoms. These findings highlight the dynamic association between EC and the maturation of the anterior cingulate cortex, and the importance of this relationship for socioemotional functioning during adolescence.
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    Dispositional mindfulness is predicted by structural development of the insula during late adolescence
    Friedel, S ; Whittle, SL ; Vijayakumar, N ; Simmons, JG ; Byrne, ML ; Schwartz, OS ; Allen, NB (ELSEVIER SCI LTD, 2015-08)
    Adolescence is a critical period of development, in which the increasing social and cognitive demands of independence need to be met by enhanced self-regulatory abilities. The cultivation of mindfulness has been associated with improved self-regulation in adult populations, and it is theorized that one neurodevelopmental mechanism that supports this capacity is the development of the prefrontal cortex. The current study examined the neurodevelopmental mechanisms associated with dispositional mindfulness in adolescence. Using a longitudinal within-persons design, 82 participants underwent structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) assessments at approximately ages 16 and 19, and also completed self-reported measurements of mindfulness at age 19. It was hypothesized that adolescents who demonstrated greater thinning of frontal cortical regions between the age of 16 and 19 would exhibit higher dispositional mindfulness levels at age 19. Results indicated that, contrary to predictions, adolescents with higher levels of mindfulness demonstrated less thinning in the left anterior insula. By contrast, higher IQ was associated with greater thinning of the right caudal middle frontal and right superior frontal regions. The involvement of insula development in mindfulness is consistent with a direct role for this structure in managing self-regulation, and in doing so concords with recent models of self-referential interoceptive awareness.
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    Observed Measures of Negative Parenting Predict Brain Development during Adolescence
    Whittle, S ; Vijayakumar, N ; Dennison, M ; Schwartz, O ; Simmons, JG ; Sheeber, L ; Allen, NB ; Rosenfeld, CS (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2016-01-29)
    Limited attention has been directed toward the influence of non-abusive parenting behaviour on brain structure in adolescents. It has been suggested that environmental influences during this period are likely to impact the way that the brain develops over time. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between aggressive and positive parenting behaviors on brain development from early to late adolescence, and in turn, psychological and academic functioning during late adolescence, using a multi-wave longitudinal design. Three hundred and sixty seven magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans were obtained over three time points from 166 adolescents (11-20 years). At the first time point, observed measures of maternal aggressive and positive behaviors were obtained. At the final time point, measures of psychological and academic functioning were obtained. Results indicated that a higher frequency of maternal aggressive behavior was associated with alterations in the development of right superior frontal and lateral parietal cortical thickness, and of nucleus accumbens volume, in males. Development of the superior frontal cortex in males mediated the relationship between maternal aggressive behaviour and measures of late adolescent functioning. We suggest that our results support an association between negative parenting and adolescent functioning, which may be mediated by immature or delayed brain maturation.
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    Baseline and lifetime alcohol consumption and risk of differentiated thyroid carcinoma in the EPIC study
    Sen, A ; Tsilidis, KK ; Allen, NE ; Rinaldi, S ; Appleby, PN ; Almquist, M ; Schmidt, JA ; Dahm, CC ; Overvad, K ; Tjonneland, A ; Rostgaard-Hansen, AL ; Clavel-Chapelon, F ; Baglietto, L ; Boutron-Ruault, M-C ; Kuehn, T ; Katze, VA ; Boeing, H ; Trichopoulou, A ; Tsironis, C ; Lagiou, P ; Palli, D ; Pala, V ; Panico, S ; Tumino, R ; Vineis, P ; Bueno-de-Mesquita, HBA ; Peeters, PH ; Hjartaker, A ; Lund, E ; Weiderpass, E ; Ramon Quiros, J ; Agudo, A ; Sanchez, M-J ; Arriola, L ; Gavrila, D ; Barricarte Gurrea, A ; Tosovic, A ; Hennings, J ; Sandstrom, M ; Romieu, I ; Ferrari, P ; Zamora-Ros, R ; Khaw, K-T ; Wareham, NJ ; Riboli, E ; Gunter, M ; Franceschi, S (SPRINGERNATURE, 2015-09-01)
    BACKGROUND: Results from several cohort and case-control studies suggest a protective association between current alcohol intake and risk of thyroid carcinoma, but the epidemiological evidence is not completely consistent and several questions remain unanswered. METHODS: The association between alcohol consumption at recruitment and over the lifetime and risk of differentiated thyroid carcinoma was examined in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Among 477 263 eligible participants (70% women), 556 (90% women) were diagnosed with differentiated thyroid carcinoma over a mean follow-up of 11 years. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using multivariable Cox proportional hazards models. RESULTS: Compared with participants consuming 0.1-4.9 g of alcohol per day at recruitment, participants consuming 15 or more grams (approximately 1-1.5 drinks) had a 23% lower risk of differentiated thyroid carcinoma (HR=0.77; 95% CI=0.60-0.98). These findings did not differ greatly when analyses were conducted for lifetime alcohol consumption, although the risk estimates were attenuated and not statistically significant anymore. Similar results were observed by type of alcoholic beverage, by differentiated thyroid carcinoma histology or according to age, sex, smoking status, body mass index and diabetes. CONCLUSIONS: Our study provides some support to the hypothesis that moderate alcohol consumption may be associated with a lower risk of papillary and follicular thyroid carcinomas.
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    Trajectories of adolescent conduct problems in relation to cortical thickness development: a longitudinal MRI study
    Oostermeijer, S ; Whittle, S ; Suo, C ; Allen, NB ; Simmons, JG ; Vijayakumar, N ; van de Ven, PM ; Jansen, LMC ; Yucel, M ; Popma, A (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2016-06-21)
    Multiple cross-sectional imaging studies have identified structural abnormalities in prefrontal, temporal and limbic regions related to conduct problems (CPs). However, the relationship between development of such neurobiological deficits and developmental pathways of CPs has remained unclear. The current study investigated distinct trajectories of CP and related trajectories of cortical thickness within a community-based sample of adolescents (n=239), age range 12-19, to address this gap. Three trajectory classes were revealed using latent class growth analyses (LCGAs), comprising a 'desisting' CP group, an 'intermediate' CP group and a 'stable low' CP group. Structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans were collected with a subgroup of 171 adolescents at three waves throughout adolescence (ages 12, 16 and 19). Generalized estimating equation (GEE) analysis-comparing longitudinal changes in cortical thickness and subcortical volume between CP groups for several regions of interest (ROIs)-showed that these CP groups had differential trajectories of cortical thickness in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dl-PFC), and the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and volume of the hippocampus. Adolescents in the desisting CP group showed an attenuation of the typical pattern of cortical thinning as present in the intermediate and stable low CP groups, in addition to an exaggeration of the typical pattern of hippocampal volume increase. These findings suggest that a deviant cortical thickness trajectory was related to a desisting CP pathway across adolescence. Such deviant neurodevelopmental growth trajectories may act as an underlying mechanism for developmental CP pathways, and possibly distinguish desisting antisocial adolescents.