Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Neuroimaging evidence for right orbitofrontal cortex differences in adolescents with emotional and behavioral dysregulation

Spechler, Philip A.; Chaarani, Bader; Orr, Catherine; Mackey, Scott; Higgins, Stephen T.; Banaschewski, Tobias; Bokde, Arun L.W.; Bromberg, Uli; B�chel, Christian; Burke Quinlan, Erin; Conrod, Patricia J.; Desrivi�res, Sylvane; Flor, Herta; Frouin, Vincent; Gowland, Penny; Heinz, Andreas; Ittermann, Bernd; Martinot, Jean-Luc; Nees, Frauke; Papadopoulos Orfanos, Dimitri; Poustka, Luise; Fr�hner, Juliane H.; Smolka, Michael N.; Walter, Henrik; Whelan, Robert; Schumann, Gunter; Garavan, Hugh; Althoff, Robert R.; IMAGEN Consortium


Philip A. Spechler

Bader Chaarani

Catherine Orr

Scott Mackey

Stephen T. Higgins

Tobias Banaschewski

Arun L.W. Bokde

Uli Bromberg

Christian B�chel

Erin Burke Quinlan

Patricia J. Conrod

Sylvane Desrivi�res

Herta Flor

Vincent Frouin

Andreas Heinz

Bernd Ittermann

Jean-Luc Martinot

Frauke Nees

Dimitri Papadopoulos Orfanos

Luise Poustka

Juliane H. Fr�hner

Michael N. Smolka

Henrik Walter

Robert Whelan

Gunter Schumann

Hugh Garavan

Robert R. Althoff

IMAGEN Consortium


Objective: To characterize the structural and functional neurobiology of a large group of adolescents exhibiting a behaviorally and emotionally dysregulated phenotype.
Methods: Age 14 adolescents from the IMAGEN study were investigated. Latent class analysis (LCA) on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) was used to identify a class of individuals with elevated behavioral and emotional difficulties (“dysregulated”; N=233) who were compared to a matched sample from a low symptom class (controls, N=233). Whole-brain gray matter volume (GMV) images were compared using a general linear model with 10,000 random label permutations. Regional GMV findings were then probed for functional differences from three fMRI tasks. Significant brain features then informed mediation path models linking the likelihood of psychiatric disorders (DSM-IV) with dysregulation.
Results: Whole-brain differences were found in the right orbitofrontal cortex (R.OFC; p less than .05; k=48), with dysregulated individuals exhibiting lower GMV. The dysregulated group also exhibited higher activity in this region during successful inhibitory control (F1,429=7.53, p less than .05). Path analyses indicated significant direct effects between the likelihood of psychopathologies and dysregulation. Modeling the R.OFC as a mediator returned modest partial effects, suggesting the path linking the likelihood of an anxiety or conduct disorder diagnoses to dysregulation is partially explained by this anatomical feature.
Conclusion: A large sample of dysregulated adolescents exhibited lower GMV in the R.OFC relative to controls. Dysregulated individuals also exhibited higher regional activations when exercising inhibitory control at performance levels comparable to controls. These findings suggest a neurobiological marker of dysregulation, and highlight the role of the R.OFC in impaired emotional and behavioral control.


Spechler, P. A., Chaarani, B., Orr, C., Mackey, S., Higgins, S. T., Banaschewski, T., …IMAGEN Consortium. (2019). Neuroimaging evidence for right orbitofrontal cortex differences in adolescents with emotional and behavioral dysregulation. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 58(11), 1092-1103.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 31, 2019
Online Publication Date Apr 17, 2019
Publication Date Nov 1, 2019
Deposit Date Jan 9, 2019
Publicly Available Date Apr 18, 2020
Journal Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Print ISSN 0890-8567
Electronic ISSN 1527-5418
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 58
Issue 11
Pages 1092-1103
Keywords Developmental and Educational Psychology; Psychiatry and Mental health
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This article is maintained by: Elsevier; Article Title: Neuroimaging Evidence for Right Orbitofrontal Cortex Differences in Adolescents With Emotional and Behavioral Dysregulation; Journal Title: Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry; CrossRef DOI link to publisher maintained version:; Content Type: article; Copyright: ©2019 American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry


You might also like

Downloadable Citations