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Specific White Matter Patterns Linked to Youth Psychopathology

Specific White Matter Patterns Linked to Youth Psychopathology
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MONDAY, Jan. 29, 2018 (HealthDay News) — General psychopathology is a heritable trait in youth that may be detected early in life through brain structural connectivity, according to a study published online Jan. 24 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Dag Alnæs, Ph.D., from Oslo University Hospital in Norway, and colleagues analyzed clinical symptoms, as well as cognitive function, in 6,487 individuals (aged 8 to 21 years from Nov. 1, 2009, to Nov. 30, 2011) participating in the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort. A subset of 748 participants had diffusion magnetic resonance imaging brain scans.

The researchers observed a significant association with general psychopathology levels and cognition. The feature most associated with both of these traits was a brain white matter pattern reflecting frontotemporal connectivity and crossing fibers in the uncinate fasciculus. Across a range of clinical domains and cognitive test scores, this feature’s transdiagnostic importance was confirmed with univariate analysis. Both the general psychopathology (16 percent; P = 0.05) and cognitive factor (18 percent; P = 0.01) were heritable, with a negative genetic correlation.

“Dimensional and heritable general cognitive and psychopathology factors are associated with specific patterns of white matter properties, suggesting that dysconnectivity is a transdiagnostic brain-based phenotype in individuals with increased susceptibility and symptoms of psychiatric disorders,” the authors write.

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