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Examining the neural correlates of irritability during frustrating feedback using dimensional and categorical approaches

Monday, September 22, 2014 — Poster Session I

12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

FAES Academic Center



* FARE Award Winner


  • E.C. Moroney
  • W-L. Tseng
  • C.M. Deveney
  • K. Towbin
  • D.S. Pine
  • M.A. Brotman
  • E. Leibenluft


Introduction: Irritability is distributed continuously in the population and is present across diagnoses, making it well-suited to be studied under the Research Domain Criteria. Utilizing an fMRI frustrating paradigm, we examined the neural correlates of irritability using both dimensional and categorical approaches. Methods: fMRI data were acquired in youth with varying degrees of irritability and across diagnostic groups including severe mood dysregulation (SMD, n=16), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (n=13), anxiety disorders (n=16), and healthy controls (n=21). Each trial of the task included two events – performing the attentional task and receiving feedback; we focused on the latter. Results: Whole-brain analyses revealed a positive correlation between parent-reported irritability and neural activation across diagnoses in the caudate (r=.31, p=.01) and, at a trend-level, in the insula (r=.22, p=.08) when participants were frustrated. Additionally, SMD youth, relative to all other groups, showed hyperactivation in the superior temporal gyrus and inferior frontal gyrus when frustrated (ps<.05). Psychophysiological interaction analyses showed that across diagnoses, higher irritability was related to increased functional connectivity between the amygdala and inferior parietal lobule (r=.35, p=.004) during frustration. Discussion: These findings suggest that abnormal neural activation and functional connectivity in regions implicated in emotion regulation and attention may mediate irritability in youth.

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