Identification of neurobehavioural symptom groups based on shared brain mechanisms

Nature human behaviour

Nat Hum Behav. 2019 Dec;3(12):1306-1318. doi: 10.1038/s41562-019-0738-8. Epub 2019 Oct 7.


Most psychopathological disorders develop in adolescence. The biological basis for this development is poorly understood. To enhance diagnostic characterization and develop improved targeted interventions, it is critical to identify behavioural symptom groups that share neural substrates. We ran analyses to find relationships between behavioural symptoms and neuroimaging measures of brain structure and function in adolescence. We found two symptom groups, consisting of anxiety/depression and executive dysfunction symptoms, respectively, that correlated with distinct sets of brain regions and inter-regional connections, measured by structural and functional neuroimaging modalities. We found that the neural correlates of these symptom groups were present before behavioural symptoms had developed. These neural correlates showed case-control differences in corresponding psychiatric disorders, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in independent clinical samples. By characterizing behavioural symptom groups based on shared neural mechanisms, our results provide a framework for developing a classification system for psychiatric illness that is based on quantitative neurobehavioural measures.

PMID:31591521 | DOI:10.1038/s41562-019-0738-8