Cognitive reappraisal of peer rejection in depressed versus non-depressed adolescents: Functional connectivity differences
Platt B., Campbell CA., James AC., Murphy SE., Cooper MJ., Lau JYF.
Background: Depression is the most common psychiatric disorder in adolescence, and is characterised by an inability to down-regulate negative emotional responses to stress. Adult studies suggest this may be associated with reduced functional connectivity between prefrontal and subcortical regions, yet the neurological mechanisms in adolescence remain unclear. Methods: We developed a novel, age-appropriate, reappraisal paradigm to investigate functional connectivity during reappraisal of a real-life source of stress in 15 depressed and 15 non-depressed adolescents. During fMRI, participants i) attended to, and ii) implemented reappraisal techniques (learnt prior to fMRI) in response to, rejection. Results: Reappraisal reduced negative mood and belief in negative thoughts in both groups alike, however during reappraisal (versus attend) trials, depressed adolescents showed greater connectivity between the right frontal pole and numerous subcortical and cortical regions than non-depressed adolescents. Conclusions: These findings tentatively suggest that, when instructed, depressed adolescents do have the ability to engage neural networks involved in emotion regulation, possibly because adolescence reflects a period of heightened plasticity. These data support the value of cognitive reappraisal as a treatment tool, identify neural markers that could be used to optimise current therapies, and lay the foundations for developing novel neuroscientific techniques for the treatment of adolescent depression.