Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Psychosocial stress and brain function in adolescent psychopathology


Erin Burke Quinlan

Anna Cattrell

Tianye Jia

Eric Artiges

Tobias Banaschewski

Gareth Barker

Arun L.W. Bokde

Uli Bromberg


Patricia J. Conrod


Herta Flor

Vincent Frouin


Hugh Garavan

Penny A. Gowland

Andreas Heinz

Frauke Nees


Dimitri Papadopoulos-Orfanos


Luise Poustka

Michael N. Smolka

Nora C. Vetter

Henrik Walter

Robert Whelan

Jan K. Buitelaar


Eva Loth

Edward D. Barker

Gunter Schumann


Objective: To explore how conduct, hyperactivity/inattention, and emotional symptoms are associated with neural reactivity to social-emotional stimuli, and the extent to which psychosocial stress modulates these relationships.
Method: Participants were community adolescents recruited as part of the European IMAGEN study. Bilateral amygdala regions of interest were used to assess the relationship between the three symptom domains with fMRI neural reactivity during passive viewing of dynamic angry and neutral facial expressions. Exploratory functional connectivity and whole-brain multiple regression approaches were used to analyze how the symptoms and psychosocial stress relate to other brain regions.
Results: In response to the social-emotional stimuli, adolescents with high levels of conduct or hyperactivity/inattention symptoms showed hyperactivity of the amygdala, and several regions across the brain, when they experienced a greater number of stressful life events. This effect was not observed with emotional symptoms. A cluster in the mid-cingulate was found to be common to both conduct problems and hyperactivity symptoms. Exploratory functional connectivity analyses suggested amygdala-precuneus connectivity is associated with hyperactivity/inattention symptoms.
Conclusions: The results link hyperactive amygdala responses, and regions critical for top-down emotional processing, with high levels of psychosocial stress in individuals with greater conduct and hyperactivity/inattention symptoms. This work highlights the importance of studying how psychosocial stress impacts functional brain responses to social-emotional stimuli, particularly in adolescents with externalizing symptoms.


Quinlan, E. B., Cattrell, A., Jia, T., Artiges, E., Banaschewski, T., Barker, G., …Schumann, G. (2017). Psychosocial stress and brain function in adolescent psychopathology. American Journal of Psychiatry, 174(8),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 24, 2017
Online Publication Date Jun 16, 2017
Publication Date Aug 1, 2017
Deposit Date Apr 6, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jun 16, 2017
Journal American Journal of Psychiatry
Print ISSN 0002-953X
Electronic ISSN 1535-7228
Publisher American Psychiatric Publishing
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 174
Issue 8
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information The official published article is available online at


You might also like

Downloadable Citations