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MRI Study Finds Brain Structure Differences in Teens with Mental Health Issues

A new Canadian study has found brain structure differences between adolescents struggling with mental health issues and their healthy peers.

The study involved teens, ages 14 to 17, who had a history of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The study participants received magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans designed to examine the white matter of their brains. The findings were then compared to scans from a second set of adolescents in the same age range who did not have a history of mental health issues.

The results show clear differences in connective neural pathways, as a function of cognitive control, between the healthy adolescents and those struggling with mental-health issues.

“We saw pathways that were less structurally efficient in the patients compared to the healthy controls,” said Dr. Anthony Singhal, professor and chair in the department of psychology at the University of Alberta, and member of UAlberta’s Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute (NHMI).

“Moreover, those observations correlated with attentional control test scores. In other words, less neural efficiency in key pathways was associated with an overall reduced tendency to focus attention.”

The paper is published in the journal Brain Imaging and Behavior.

The study is one of the first to show these results with adolescents, adding to previous research conducted with adult participants.

“We can’t paint with broad strokes that we are talking about differences between people’s brains,” explained Singhal. “It’s just not that simple. But we do have to start somewhere, and this is a great jumping-off point.”

Source: University of Alberta

 

MRI Study Finds Brain Structure Differences in Teens with Mental Health Issues

Traci Pedersen

Traci Pedersen is a professional writer with over a decade of experience. Her work consists of writing for both print and online publishers in a variety of genres including science chapter books, college and career articles, and elementary school curriculum.

APA Reference
Pedersen, T. (2019). MRI Study Finds Brain Structure Differences in Teens with Mental Health Issues. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 4, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2019/12/23/mri-study-finds-brain-structure-differences-in-teens-with-mental-health-issues/152770.html
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 23 Dec 2019 (Originally: 23 Dec 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 23 Dec 2019
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.