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1.  Early Exposure to Traumatic Stressors Impairs Emotional Brain Circuitry 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75524.
Exposure to early life trauma (ELT) is known to have a profound impact on mental development, leading to a higher risk for depression and anxiety. Our aim was to use multiple structural imaging methods to systematically investigate how traumatic stressors early in life impact the emotional brain circuits, typically found impaired with clinical diagnosis of depression and anxiety, across the lifespan in an otherwise healthy cohort. MRI data and self-reported histories of ELT from 352 healthy individuals screened for no psychiatric disorders were analyzed in this study. The volume and cortical thickness of the limbic and cingulate regions were assessed for all participants. A large subset of the cohort also had diffusion tensor imaging data, which was used to quantify white matter structural integrity of these regions. We found a significantly smaller amygdala volume and cortical thickness in the rostral anterior cingulate cortex associated with higher ELT exposure only for the adolescence group. White matter integrity of these regions was not affected. These findings demonstrate that exposure to early life trauma is associated with alterations in the gray matter of cingulate-limbic regions during adolescence in an otherwise healthy sample. These findings are interesting in the context that the affected regions are central neuroanatomical components in the psychopathology of depression, and adolescence is a peak period for risk and onset of the disorder.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075524
PMCID: PMC3779182  PMID: 24073270
2.  Sensitivity, specificity, and predictive power of the “Brief Risk-resilience Index for SCreening,” a brief pan-diagnostic web screen for emotional health 
Brain and Behavior  2012;2(5):576-589.
Few standardized tools are available for time-efficient screening of emotional health status across diagnostic categories, especially in primary care. We evaluated the 45-question Brief Risk-resilience Index for SCreening (BRISC) and the 15-question mini-BRISC in identifying poor emotional health and coping capacity across a range of diagnostic groups – compared with a detailed clinical assessment – in a large sample of adult outpatients. Participants 18–60 years of age (n = 1079) recruited from 12 medical research and clinical sites completed the computerized assessments. Three index scores were derived from the full BRISC and the mini-BRISC: one for risk (negativity–positivity bias) and two for coping (resilience and social capacity). Summed answers were converted to standardized z-scores. BRISC scores were compared with detailed health assessment and diagnostic interview (for current psychiatric, psychological, and neurological conditions) by clinicians at each site according to diagnostic criteria. Clinicians were blinded to BRISC scores. Clinical assessment stratified participants as having “clinical” (n = 435) or “healthy” (n = 644) diagnostic status. Receiver operating characteristic analyses showed that a z-score threshold of −1.57 on the full BRISC index of emotional health provided an optimal classification of “clinical” versus “healthy” status (sensitivity: 81.2%, specificity: 92.7%, positive predictive power: 80.2%, and negative predictive power: 93.1%). Comparable findings were revealed for the mini-BRISC. Negativity–positivity bias index scores contributed the most to prediction. The negativity–positivity index of emotional health was most sensitive to classifying major depressive disorder (100%), posttraumatic stress disorder (95.8%), and panic disorder (88.7%). The BRISC and mini-BRISC both offer a brief, clinically useful screen to identify individuals at risk of disorders characterized by poor emotion regulation, from those with good emotional health and coping.
doi:10.1002/brb3.76
PMCID: PMC3489810  PMID: 23139903
Depression and anxiety; emotional well-being; Internet; mental health screen; risk and resilience; sensitivity and specificity

Results 1-2 (2)