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Parents Still Matter! Parental Warmth Predicts Adolescent Brain Function and Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms Two Years Later

Butterfield, Rosalind and Silk, Jennifer and Lee, Kyung Hwa and Siegle, Greg and Dahl, Ronald and Forbes, Erika and Ryan, Neal and Hooley, Jill and Ladouceur, Cecile (2020) Parents Still Matter! Parental Warmth Predicts Adolescent Brain Function and Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms Two Years Later. Development and Psychopathology, 32 (1). pp. 1-14. ISSN 1469-2198

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Anxiety is the most prevalent psychological disorder among youth, and even following treatment, confers risk for anxiety relapse and the development of depression. Anxiety disorders are associated with heightened response to negative affective stimuli in brain networks underlying emotion processing. One factor that can attenuate symptoms of anxiety and depression in high-risk youth is parental warmth. The current study investigates whether parental warmth helps to protect against future anxiety and depressive symptoms in adolescents with histories of anxiety, and whether neural functioning in brain regions implicated in emotion processing and regulation can account for this link. Following anxiety disorder treatment (Time 1), thirty adolescents (M age=11.58, SD=1.26) reported on maternal warmth and, two years later (Time 2), participated in functional neuroimaging task where they listened to pre-recorded criticism and neutral statements from a parent. Higher maternal warmth predicted lower neural activation during criticism, compared with neutral statements, in the left amygdala, bilateral insula, subgenual anterior cingulate, right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, and anterior cingulate cortex. Maternal warmth was associated with adolescents’ anxiety and depressive symptoms due to the indirect effects of sgACC activation, suggesting that parenting may attenuate risk for internalizing through its effects on brain function.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Butterfield, Rosalindrde11@pitt.edurde11
Silk, Jenniferjss4@pitt.edujss4
Lee, Kyung
Siegle, Greg
Dahl, Ronald
Forbes, Erika
Ryan, Neal
Hooley, Jill
Ladouceur, Cecile
Date: 2020
Journal or Publication Title: Development and Psychopathology
Volume: 32
Number: 1
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Page Range: pp. 1-14
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1017/s0954579419001718
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: adolescence anxiety depression fMRI parental warmth
ISSN: 1469-2198
Official URL:
Article Type: Research Article
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2020 17:31
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2020 17:31


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