The relationship of brain structure to age and executive functioning in adolescent disruptive behavior disorder

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11 Scopus citations


Characterizing brain maturation in adolescents with disruptive behavior disorders (DBDs) may provide insight into the progression of their behavioral deficits. Therefore, this study examined how age and executive functioning were related to structural neural characteristics in DBD. Thirty-three individuals (aged 13-17) with a DBD, along with a matched control sample, completed neuropsychological testing and underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure gray matter volume and microstructural white matter properties. Voxel-based morphometry quantified gray matter volume, and diffusion tensor imaging measured fractional anisotropy (FA) in white matter tracts. In the anterior cingulate, gray matter volume decreased with age in healthy controls but showed no such change in the DBD sample. In the corpus callosum and superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF), FA increased with age in the control sample significantly more than in the DBD sample. Executive functioning, particularly working memory, was associated with SLF FA bilaterally. However, the relationship of SLF FA to working memory performance was weaker in the DBD sample. These data suggest that youth with DBD have altered brain development compared with typically developing youth. The abnormal maturation of the anterior cingulate and frontoparietal tracts during adolescence may contribute to the persistence of behavioral deficits in teens with a DBD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-217
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 30 2015


  • Adolescence
  • Conduct disorder
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Executive function
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Voxel-based morphometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine(all)

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