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Structural brain correlates of adolescent resilience


Keith B. Burt

Robert Whelan

Patricia J. Conrod

Tobias Banaschewski

Gareth J. Barker

Arun L.W. Bokde

Uli Bromberg



Herta Flor


Juergen Gallinat

Andreas Heinz

Bernd Ittermann

Karl Mann

Frauke Nees

Dimitri Papadopoulos-Orfanos

Tomas Paus

Zdenka Pausova

Luise Poustka

Marcella Rietschel

Trevor W. Robbins

Michael N. Smolka


Gunter Schumann

Hugh Garavan



Despite calls for integration of neurobiological methods into research on youth resilience (high competence despite high adversity), we know little about structural brain correlates of resilient functioning. The aim of the current study was to test for brain regions uniquely associated with positive functioning in the context of adversity, using detailed phenotypic classification.

1,870 European adolescents (Mage = 14.56 years, SDage = 0.44 years, 51.5% female) underwent MRI scanning and completed behavioral and psychological measures of stressful life events, academic competence, social competence, rule-abiding conduct, personality, and alcohol use.

The interaction of competence and adversity identified two regions centered on the right middle and superior frontal gyri; grey matter volumes in these regions were larger in adolescents experiencing adversity who showed positive adaptation. Differences in these regions among competence/adversity subgroups were maintained after controlling for several covariates and were robust to alternative operationalization decisions for key constructs.

We demonstrate structural brain correlates of adolescent resilience, and suggest that right prefrontal structures are implicated in adaptive functioning for youth who have experienced adversity.


Burt, K. B., Whelan, R., Conrod, P. J., Banaschewski, T., Barker, G. J., Bokde, A. L., …Garavan, H. (2016). Structural brain correlates of adolescent resilience. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 57(11),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 26, 2016
Online Publication Date Apr 15, 2016
Publication Date Nov 30, 2016
Deposit Date May 9, 2017
Publicly Available Date May 9, 2017
Journal Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Print ISSN 0021-9630
Electronic ISSN 1469-7610
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 57
Issue 11
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Burt, K. B., Whelan, R., Conrod, P. J., Banaschewski, T., Barker, G. J., Bokde, A. L.W., Bromberg, U., Büchel, C., Fauth-Bühler, M., Flor, H., Galinowski, A., Gallinat, J., Gowland, P., Heinz, A., Ittermann, B., Mann, K., Nees, F., Papadopoulos-Orfanos, D., Paus, T., Pausova, Z., Poustka, L., Rietschel, M., Robbins, T. W., Smolka, M. N., Ströhle, A., Schumann, G., Garavan, H. and the IMAGEN Consortium (2016), Structural brain correlates of adolescent resilience. J Child Psychol Psychiatr, 57: 1287–1296, which has been published in final form at]. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.


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