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Journal: Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines


Neuroimaging methods that allow researchers to investigate structural covariance between brain regions are increasingly being used to study psychiatric disorders. Structural covariance analyses are particularly well suited for studying disorders with putative neurodevelopmental origins as they appear sensitive to changes in the synchronized maturation of different brain regions. We assessed interregional correlations in cortical thickness as a measure of structural covariance, and applied this method to investigate the coordinated development of different brain regions in conduct disorder (CD). We also assessed whether structural covariance measures could differentiate between the childhood-onset (CO-CD) and adolescence-onset (AO-CD) subtypes of CD, which may differ in terms of etiology and adult outcomes.

Concepts: Human brain, Psychiatry, Medicine, Brain, Psychology, Scientific method, Mental disorder, Cerebral cortex


There has been increasing interest in the potential for pre-emptive interventions in the prodrome of autism, but little investigation as to their effect.

Concepts: Randomized controlled trial, Intervention


Diagnosis of ‘specific’ language impairment traditionally required nonverbal IQ to be within normal limits, often resulting in restricted access to clinical services for children with lower NVIQ. Changes to DSM-5 criteria for language disorder removed this NVIQ requirement. This study sought to delineate the impact of varying NVIQ criteria on prevalence, clinical presentation and functional impact of language disorder in the first UK population study of language impairment at school entry.

Concepts: Requirements analysis, Medical diagnosis, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Language, Requirement, Sign language, Linguistics


Recently, school mobility was identified as a risk factor for psychotic symptoms in early adolescence. The extent to which this risk continues into late adolescence and the trajectories via which this risk manifests remain unexplored.

Concepts: Greek loanwords, Preadolescence, Childhood, Psychosis


Conduct problems (CP) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are often comorbid and have each been linked to ‘unhealthy diet’. Early-life diet also associates with DNA methylation of the insulin-like growth factor 2 gene (IGF2), involved in fetal and neural development. We investigated the degree to which prenatal high-fat and -sugar diet might relate to ADHD symptoms via IGF2 DNA methylation for early-onset persistent (EOP) versus low CP youth.

Concepts: Attention, Educational psychology, Hyperactivity, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder


DSM-5 sees the introduction of Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder (SPCD), characterized by persistent difficulties using verbal and nonverbal communication for social purposes, in the absence of restricted and repetitive interests and behaviours. There is currently much confusion about the precise diagnostic criteria for SPCD and how this disorder relates to autism spectrum disorders (ASD), previous descriptions of pragmatic language impairment (PLI) and more specific language disorders (LD).

Concepts: Autism spectrum, Nonverbal communication, Writing, Communication disorders, Autism, Pervasive developmental disorder, Communication, Asperger syndrome


Background:  Neuroimaging findings have provided evidence for a relation between variations in brain structures and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, longitudinal neuroimaging studies are typically confined to children who have already been diagnosed with ADHD. In a population-based study, we aimed to characterize the prospective association between brain structures measured during infancy and executive function and attention deficit/hyperactivity problems assessed at preschool age. Methods:  In the Generation R Study, the corpus callosum length, the gangliothalamic ovoid diameter (encompassing the basal ganglia and thalamus), and the ventricular volume were measured in 784 6-week-old children using cranial postnatal ultrasounds. Parents rated executive functioning at 4 years using the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function-Preschool Version in five dimensions: inhibition, shifting, emotional control, working memory, and planning/organizing. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Problems were assessed at ages 3 and 5 years using the Child Behavior Checklist. Results:  A smaller corpus callosum length during infancy was associated with greater deficits in executive functioning at 4 years. This was accounted for by higher problem scores on inhibition and emotional control. The corpus callosum length during infancy did not predict Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Problem at 3 and 5 years, when controlling for the confounders. We did not find any relation between gangliothalamic ovoid diameter and executive function or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Problem. Conclusions:  Variations in brain structures detectible in infants predicted subtle impairments in inhibition and emotional control. However, in this population-based study, we could not demonstrate that early structural brain variations precede symptoms of ADHD.

Concepts: Attention, Executive functions, Dopamine, Basal ganglia, Cerebrum, Brain, Working memory, Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder


Background:  Childhood behavioral disorders including conduct disorder (CD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often co-occur. Prior twin research shows that common sets of genetic and environmental factors are associated with these various disorders and they form a latent factor called Externalizing. The developmental propensity model posits that CD develops in part from socioemotional dispositions of Prosociality, Negative Emotionality, and Daring; and recent research has supported the expected genetic and environmental associations between these dispositions and CD. This study examined the developmental propensity model in relation to the broader Externalizing factor that represents the covariance among behavior disorders in children. Methods:  Parents of 686 six- to twelve-year-old twin pairs rated them on symptoms of CD, ADHD, and ODD using the disruptive behavior disorder scale and on Prosociality, Negative Emotionality, and Daring using the Child and Adolescent Dispositions Scale. A latent factor multivariate Cholesky model was used with each disposition latent factor comprised of respective questionnaire items and the Externalizing factor comprised of symptom dimensions of CD, ADHD inattention, ADHD hyperactivity/impulsivity, and ODD. Results:  Results supported the hypothesis that the socioemotional dispositions and the Externalizing factor have genetic factors in common, but there was not a single genetic factor associated with all of the constructs. As expected, nonshared environment factors were shared by the dispositions and Externalizing factor but, again, no single nonshared environmental factor was common to all constructs. A shared environmental factor was associated with both Negative Emotionality and Externalizing. Conclusions:  The developmental propensity model was supported and appears to extend to the broader externalizing spectrum of childhood disorders. Socioemotional dispositions of prosociality, negative emotionality, and (to a lesser extent) daring may contribute to the covariation among behavioral disorders and perhaps to their comorbid expression through common sets of primarily genetic but also environmental factors.

Concepts: Child, Environment, Conduct disorder, Oppositional defiant disorder, Genetics


Background:  Research on resilience in the aftermath of potentially traumatic life events (PTE) is still evolving. For decades, researchers have documented resilience in children exposed to corrosive early environments, such as poverty or chronic maltreatment. Relatively more recently, the study of resilience has migrated to the investigation of isolated PTE in adults. Methods:  In this article, we first consider some of the key differences in the conceptualization of resilience following chronic adversity versus resilience following single-incident traumas, and then describe some of the misunderstandings that have developed about these constructs. To organize our discussion, we introduce the terms emergent resilience and minimal-impact resilience to represent trajectories of positive adjustment in these two domains, respectively. Results:  We focused in particular on minimal-impact resilience, and reviewed recent advances in statistical modeling of latent trajectories that have informed the most recent research on minimal-impact resilience in both children and adults and the variables that predict it, including demographic variables, exposure, past and current stressors, resources, personality, positive emotion, coping and appraisal, and flexibility in coping and emotion regulation. Conclusions:  The research on minimal-impact resilience is nascent. Further research is warranted with implications for a multiple levels of analysis approach to elucidate the processes that may mitigate or modify the impact of a PTE at different developmental stages.

Concepts: Exposure, Demographics, Adjustment disorder, Research, Scientific method, Richard Lazarus, Psychological trauma, Emotion


Background:  The development of Bronfenbrenner’s bio-social-ecological systems model of human development parallels advances made to the theory of resilience that progressively moved from a more individual (micro) focus on traits to a multisystemic understanding of person-environment reciprocal processes. Methods:  This review uses Bronfenbrenner’s model and Ungar’s social-ecological interpretation of four decades of research on resilience to discuss the results of a purposeful selection of studies of resilience that have been done in different contexts and cultures. Results:  An ecological model of resilience can, and indeed has been shown to help researchers of resilience to conceptualize the child’s social and physical ecologies, from caregivers to neighbourhoods, that account for both proximal and distal factors that predict successful development under adversity. Three principles emerged from this review that inform a bio-social-ecological interpretation of resilience: equifinality (there are many proximal processes that can lead to many different, but equally viable, expressions of human development associated with well-being); differential impact (the nature of the risks children face, their perceptions of the resources available to mitigate those risks and the quality of the resources that are accessible make proximal processes more or less influential to children’s development); and contextual and cultural moderation (different contexts and cultures provide access to different processes associated with resilience as it is defined locally). Conclusion:  As this review shows, using this multisystemic social-ecological theory of resilience can inform a deeper understanding of the processes that contribute to positive development under stress. It can also offer practitioners and policy makers a broader perspective on principles for the design and implementation of effective interventions.

Concepts: Ecological Systems Theory, Psychology, Urie Bronfenbrenner, Child, Policy, Child development, Developmental psychology, Ecology