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Modeling relations between early life interpersonal stress, neural response to social reward, and depressive symptoms in adolescent girls

Palacios-Barrios, Esther E. (2024) Modeling relations between early life interpersonal stress, neural response to social reward, and depressive symptoms in adolescent girls. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Experiencing stressful events early in life is very common and widespread across the globe. Despite strong links between experiencing such stress and developing depression, the factors that drive this association remain unclear. Recent evidence suggests that interpersonal stressors (e.g., maltreatment), compared to impersonal stressors (e.g., poverty), uniquely relate to depression. Therefore, a focus on early life interpersonal stress (ELIS) may be critical for our understanding of the factors that contribute to stress-related depression. Prior work demonstrates that youth who experience ELIS exhibit altered neural response to social reward (e.g., positive social stimuli/ feedback) in reward-related brain regions (e.g., striatum, anterior cingulate cortex). Similar disruptions in neural response to social reward are also noted in studies of youth with depression. However, limited work has examined relations between ELIS, neural response to social reward, and depression all in one study. The present dissertation aimed to synthesize these separate, yet related, bodies of literature by investigating whether 1) ELIS related to altered neural response to social reward, 2) disruptions in neural response to social reward related to depression, and 3) altered neural response to social reward moderated links between ELIS and depression. An exploratory aim further tested whether developmentally relevant interpersonal stress vs. impersonal stress differentially associated with neural response to social reward. Notably, these aims were examined in a sample of adolescent girls (N = 31, M/SD age = 15.94/1.44), which is particularly important given the increases in interpersonal stressors, sensitivity to reward, and risk for depression that occur during this time, especially for girls compared to boys. The participants completed self-report measures of ELIS and depressive symptoms, a clinical interview measuring interpersonal stress vs. impersonal stress, and the fMRI Chatroom Interact Task. Neural response to the peer acceptance > control feedback contrast was examined in regions implicated in reward processing. Unfortunately, multiple regression and moderation analyses did not find significant associations between ELIS, neural response to social reward, and depression. Nevertheless, the present dissertation still provides novel contributions that positions future work to better understand the potential central role of social reward processing in the link between ELIS and depression.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Palacios-Barrios, Esther E.esther.palacios-barrios@pitt.edueep320000-0002-6988-652X
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairHanson, Jamie
Committee MemberSilk, Jennifer
Committee MemberRoecklein, Kathryn
Committee MemberBylsma, Lauren
Committee MemberFlores, Luis
Date: 8 May 2024
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 31 May 2023
Approval Date: 8 May 2024
Submission Date: 11 January 2024
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 71
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: early life interpersonal stress, depression, social reward, neuroimaging
Date Deposited: 08 May 2024 17:33
Last Modified: 08 May 2024 17:33


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