Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Maternal depression during early childhood, persistent aggression into emerging adulthood: neurodevelopmental pathways of risk?

Norman, Mary (2019) Maternal depression during early childhood, persistent aggression into emerging adulthood: neurodevelopmental pathways of risk? Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Download (1MB) | Preview


Despite an accumulation of evidence documenting prospective links between maternal depression and aggression in offspring, the mechanisms underlying this association remain somewhat mysterious. Mothers' depressive symptoms could undermine offspring's learning of stage-adaptive emotion regulation (ER) skills during early childhood (e.g., Seifer, Schiller, Sameroff, Resnick, & Riordan, 1996; Silk, Shaw, Skuban, Oland, & Kovacs, 2006). Some longitudinal studies link maternal depression to disruptions in young children's ER, which has been found to predict elevated aggressive behavior in later childhood and emerging adolescence (e.g., Gilliom et al., 2002; Trentacosta & Shaw, 2009). Neurodevelopmental mechanisms such as altered organization or refinement in cortico-limbic pathways could also play a role in prospective associations between mothers' depression during early childhood and dysregulated aggression in offspring (Callaghan & Tottenham, 2016; Sheikh et al., 2014). To further inform future inquiries into these mechanisms of risk, the present study tested whether maternal depression in early childhood was prospectively linked to persistent patterns of aggression at school entry and in emerging adulthood via disruptions in early ER processes and related patterns of neuroanatomical connectivity. Participants were drawn from a sample of 310 males at elevated risk for disruptive behavior problems based on their gender and low socioeconomic status. Direct paths from maternal depression and preschool-age ER in early childhood to offspring aggression at school-age were supported. Unexpectedly, aggressive behavior was not found to be stable from the early school-age period into young adulthood across informant and context. Children's aggressive behavior was inversely associated with uncinate fasciculus structural integrity in emerging adulthood, such that higher aggression at school-age predicted lower fractional anisotropy at age 20. Another index of uncinate structural integrity (i.e., mean diffusivity) was positively associated with general antisocial behavior and depressive symptoms in young adulthood. The present findings add new, longitudinal evidence to inform nascent theories for neurodevelopmental mechanisms underlying antisocial behavior and clarify directions for future research endeavors to illuminate other potential neurodevelopmental mechanisms of risk related to mothers' depression.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Norman, Marymcg54@pitt.edumcg54
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairShaw, Danieldanielshaw@pitt.edudanielshaw
Committee MemberErickson, Kirkkiericks@pitt.edukiericks
Committee MemberGianaros, Petergianaros@pitt.edugianaros
Committee MemberForbes, Erikaforbese@upmc.eduforbese
Committee MemberSilk, Jenniferjss4@pitt.edujss4
Date: 31 January 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 5 December 2018
Approval Date: 31 January 2019
Submission Date: 6 December 2018
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 104
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: maternal depression, emotion regulation, uncinate fasciculus, aggression, neurodevelopment
Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2019 17:11
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2019 17:11


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item