Rates of depression increase drastically during puberty - particularly in girls - and depression during this developmental period is associated with a host of negative psychological, social, academic, and financial consequences. Puberty is therefore a critical time during which to identify neural biomarkers of current symptomatology and risk that may clarify the etiopathogenesis of depression. The proposed study, sponsored by Dr. Greg Hajcak Proudfit, aims to delineate subtypes of the neural response to rewards - which has previously been associated with both current depression and risk for future depression - in a sample of 8- to 14-year-old girls. This project will be added onto an ongoing R01-funded study (PI: Greg Hajcak Proudfit) in which a number of measures are collected: self-report and interview-based measures of depression and pubertal development in the participants;interview-based measures of maternal depression;hormonal measures;and ERPs relating to the processing of monetary rewards. The current study will add a task to assess the ERP response to social rewards. Using structural equation modeling, puberty and depression will be modeled as latent variables. Analyses will be conducted to relate the neural response to social rewards to measures of both puberty and current depression. The relationship between the neural response to social rewards and maternal history of depression - an established marker of risk for depression - will also be assessed, excluding child participants with lifetime depression in order to isolate the effects of risk. Additional analyses will explore the extent to which the neural response to social rewards explains unique variation in depression when accounting for the response to monetary rewards. The proposed research plan will provide training in methods of assessing pubertal development (interview-based, questionnaire-based, and hormonal);theoretical models, neural correlates, and clinical assessment of depression in children and adolescents;clinical assessment of depression in adults;advanced statistical techniques;and advanced methods of EEG processing. This research will contribute to an enhanced understanding of neural reward-processing mechanisms related to ongoing symptomatology and risk for depression, and the neural responses being studied may eventually be added to interventions or screening panels for depression in children and adolescents.

Public Health Relevance

Depression increases drastically over the course of adolescence - reaching cumulative rates between 10% and 20%2, 129-131 - and child and adolescent depression are associated with a host of negative psychological, academic, social, and economic consequences40-42;thus, it is imperative to identify biomarkers that can predict the severity of, and risk for, depression during this time. The proposed research aims to examine the neural response to social rewards in adolescent girls, to characterize its relationship with pubertal development, and to determine the extent to which it relates to concurrent depressive symptoms and to maternal history of depression - a well-established risk factor for depression in offspring35-37. The results of this research will contribute to an enhanced understanding of processes that may signal increased risk for depression, and may contribute to future interventions and inform studies investigating risk for different subtypes of depression.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
Program Officer
Sarampote, Christopher S
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
State University New York Stony Brook
Schools of Arts and Sciences
Stony Brook
United States
Zip Code