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Cortical Thickness and Stressful Life Events in Anxious and Non-anxious Youths

Thursday, September 14, 2017 — Poster Session III

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
FAES Terrace


  • JF Sachs
  • D Pagliaccio
  • K Lewis
  • ER Steuber
  • J Pacheco
  • CA Filippi
  • E Leibenluft
  • DS Pine
  • AL Gold


Stressful life events increase risk for childhood psychopathology. For instance, exposure to stressful life events increases the likelihood of anxiety and mood disorders in adolescence. Independent lines of research link exposure to stressful life events with structural brain alterations. It remains unclear whether the association of stress exposure and brain structure differs in anxious versus non-anxious youths. In a sample of 111 youth who completed the Life Events Checklist (Johnson & McCutcheon, 1980) and structural MRI scans, we tested bivariate associations of stress exposure and structural brain measures and interactions of stress exposure and anxiety diagnosis. We hypothesized smaller hippocampal volume and thinner cortex in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and insula would be associated with exposure to stressful life events, and this relationship would differ based on anxiety diagnosis. Participants included 67 anxious and 44 healthy youths. Standard procedures in FreeSurfer 5.3 software were conducted to obtain these automated measures: (1) subcortical gray matter volume in the hippocampus and amygdala and (2) whole-brain vertex-wise cortical thickness. Stress exposure was unrelated to hippocampal or amygdala GMV (ps>.19). There was a significant interaction of number of stressful life events and anxiety in the right lateral orbitofrontal cortex (OFC; p

Category: Neuroscience