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Childhood conduct problems are associated with reduced white matter fibre density and morphology

Burley, Daniel T., Genc, Sila and Silk, Timothy J. 2021. Childhood conduct problems are associated with reduced white matter fibre density and morphology. Journal of Affective Disorders 281 , pp. 638-645. 10.1016/j.jad.2020.11.098
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Childhood conduct problems are an important public health issue as these children are at-risk of adverse outcomes. Studies using diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging (dMRI) have found that conduct problems in adults are characterised by abnormal white-matter microstructure within a range of white matter pathways underpinning socio-emotional processing, while evidence within children and adolescents has been less conclusive based on non-specific diffusion tensor imaging metrics. Fixel-based analysis (FBA) provides measures of fibre density and morphology that are more sensitive to developmental changes in white matter microstructure. The current study used FBA to investigate whether childhood conduct problems were related both cross-sectionally and longitudinally to microstructural alterations within the fornix, inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF), inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF), superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF), and the uncinate fasciculus (UF). dMRI data was obtained for 130 children across two time-points in a community sample with high levels of externalising difficulties (age: time-point 1 = 9.47 – 11.86 years, time-point 2 = 10.67 -13.45 years). Conduct problems were indexed at each time-point using the Conduct Problems subscale of the parent-informant Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Conduct problems were related to lower fibre density in the fornix at both time-points, and in the ILF at time-point 2. We also observed lower fibre cross-section in the UF at time-point 1. The change in conduct problems did not predict longitudinal changes in white-matter microstructure across time-points. The current study suggests that childhood conduct problems are related to reduced fibre-specific microstructure within white matter fibre pathways implicated in socio-emotional functioning.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0165-0327
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 10 November 2020
Date of Acceptance: 10 November 2020
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2021 20:01

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