Nav: Home

Map of teenage brain provides evidence of link between antisocial behavior and brain development

June 15, 2016

The brains of teenagers with serious antisocial behaviour problems differ significantly in structure to those of their peers, providing the clearest evidence to date that their behaviour stems from changes in brain development in early life, according to new research led by the University of Cambridge and the University of Southampton, in collaboration with the University of Rome "Tor Vergata" in Italy.

In a study published today in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods to look at the brain structure of male adolescents and young adults who had been diagnosed with conduct disorder - persistent behavioural problems including aggressive and destructive behaviour, lying and stealing, and for older children, weapon use or staying out all night.

In particular, the researchers looked at the coordinated development of different brain regions by studying whether they were similar or different in terms of thickness. Regions that develop at similar rates would be expected to show similar patterns of cortical thickness, for example.

"There's evidence already of differences in the brains of individuals with serious behavioural problems, but this is often simplistic and only focused on regions such as the amygdala, which we know is important for emotional behaviour," explains Dr Luca Passamonti from the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge. "But conduct disorder is a complex behavioural disorder, so likewise we would expect the changes to be more complex in nature and to potentially involve other brain regions."

In a study funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council, researchers at the University of Cambridge recruited 58 male adolescents and young adults with conduct disorder and 25 typically-developing controls, all aged between 16 and 21 years. The researchers divided the individuals with conduct disorder according to whether they displayed childhood-onset conduct disorder or adolescent-onset conduct disorder.

The team found that youths with childhood-onset conduct disorder (sometimes termed 'early-starters') showed a strikingly higher number of significant correlations in thickness between regions relative to the controls. They believe this may reflect disruptions in the normal pattern of brain development in childhood or adolescence.

On the other hand, youths with adolescent-onset conduct disorder ('late starters') displayed fewer such correlations than the healthy individuals. The researchers believe this may reflect specific disruptions in the development of the brain during adolescence, for example to the 'pruning' of nerve cells or the connections (synapses) between them.

As the findings were particularly striking, the researchers sought to replicate their findings in an independent sample of 37 individuals with conduct disorder and 32 healthy controls, all male and aged 13-18 years, recruited at the University of Southampton; they were able to confirm their findings, adding to the robustness of the study.

"The differences that we see between healthy teenagers and those with both forms of conduct disorders show that most of the brain is involved, but particularly the frontal and temporal regions of the brain," says Dr Graeme Fairchild, who is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Southampton. "This provides extremely compelling evidence that conduct disorder is a real psychiatric disorder and not, as some experts maintain, just an exaggerated form of teenage rebellion.

"These findings also show that there are important differences in the brain between those who develop problems early in childhood compared with those who only show behavioural problems in their teenage years. More research is now needed to investigate how to use these results to help these young people clinically and to examine the factors leading to this abnormal pattern of brain development, such as exposure to early adversity."

"There's never been any doubt that conditions such as Alzheimer's disease are diseases of the brain because imaging allows us to see clearly how it eats away at the brain," adds Professor Nicola Toschi from the University "Tor Vergata" of Rome, "but until now we haven't been able to see the clear - and widespread - structural differences in the brains of youths with conduct disorder."

Although the findings point to the importance of the brain in explaining the development of conduct disorder, it is not clear how the structural differences arise and whether, for example, it is a mixture of an individual's genetic make-up and the environment in which they are raised that causes the changes. However, the researchers say their findings may make it possible to monitor objectively the effectiveness of interventions.

"Now that we have a way of imaging the whole brain and providing a 'map' of conduct disorder, we may in future be able to see whether the changes we have observed in this study are reversible if early interventions or psychological therapies are provided," says Professor Ian Goodyer from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge.
-end-


University of Cambridge

Related Brain Articles:

Study describes changes to structural brain networks after radiotherapy for brain tumors
Researchers compared the thickness of brain cortex in patients with brain tumors before and after radiation therapy was applied and found significant dose-dependent changes in the structural properties of cortical neural networks, at both the local and global level.
Blue Brain team discovers a multi-dimensional universe in brain networks
Using a sophisticated type of mathematics in a way that it has never been used before in neuroscience, a team from the Blue Brain Project has uncovered a universe of multi-dimensional geometrical structures and spaces within the networks of the brain.
New brain mapping tool produces higher resolution data during brain surgery
Researchers have developed a new device to map the brain during surgery and distinguish between healthy and diseased tissues.
Newborn baby brain scans will help scientists track brain development
Scientists have today published ground-breaking scans of newborn babies' brains which researchers from all over the world can download and use to study how the human brain develops.
New test may quickly identify mild traumatic brain injury with underlying brain damage
A new test using peripheral vision reaction time could lead to earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment of mild traumatic brain injury, often referred to as a concussion.
This is your brain on God: Spiritual experiences activate brain reward circuits
Religious and spiritual experiences activate the brain reward circuits in much the same way as love, sex, gambling, drugs and music, report researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine.
Brain scientists at TU Dresden examine brain networks during short-term task learning
'Practice makes perfect' is a common saying. We all have experienced that the initially effortful implementation of novel tasks is becoming rapidly easier and more fluent after only a few repetitions.
Balancing time & space in the brain: New model holds promise for predicting brain dynamics
A team of scientists has extended the balanced network model to provide deep and testable predictions linking brain circuits to brain activity.
New view of brain development: Striking differences between adult and newborn mouse brain
Spikes in neuronal activity in young mice do not spur corresponding boosts in blood flow -- a discovery that stands in stark contrast to the adult mouse brain.
Map of teenage brain provides evidence of link between antisocial behavior and brain development
The brains of teenagers with serious antisocial behavior problems differ significantly in structure to those of their peers, providing the clearest evidence to date that their behavior stems from changes in brain development in early life, according to new research led by the University of Cambridge and the University of Southampton, in collaboration with the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy.

Related Brain Reading:

Change Your Brain, Change Your Life (Revised and Expanded): The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Lack of Focus, Anger, and Memory Problems
by Daniel G. Amen M.D. (Author)

In this completely revised and updated edition of the breakthrough bestseller, neuropsychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen includes effective "brain prescriptions" that can help heal your brain and change your life.

To quell anxiety and panic:
Use simple breathing techniques to immediately calm inner turmoil

To fight depression:
Learn how to kill ANTs (automatic negative thoughts)

To curb anger:
Follow the Amen anti-anger diet and learn the nutrients that calm rage

To conquer impulsiveness and learn to focus:
Develop total focus with the One-Page... View Details


The Brain: The Story of You
by David Eagleman (Author)

Locked in the silence and darkness of your skull, your brain fashions the rich narratives of your reality and your identity. Join renowned neuroscientist David Eagleman for a journey into the questions at the mysterious heart of our existence. What is reality? Who are “you”? How do you make decisions? Why does your brain need other people? How is technology poised to change what it means to be human?  In the course of his investigations, Eagleman guides us through the world of extreme sports, criminal justice, facial expressions, genocide, brain surgery, gut feelings, robotics, and the... View Details


Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramon y Cajal
by Larry W. Swanson (Author), Eric Newman (Author), Alfonso Araque (Author), Janet M. Dubinsky (Author)

At the crossroads of art and science, Beautiful Brain presents Nobel Laureate Santiago Ramón y Cajal’s contributions to neuroscience through his groundbreaking artistic brain imagery.
 
Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852–1934) was the father of modern neuroscience and an exceptional artist. He devoted his life to the anatomy of the brain, the body’s most complex and mysterious organ. His superhuman feats of visualization, based on fanatically precise techniques and countless hours at the microscope, resulted in some of the most remarkable illustrations in the... View Details


The Brain: All about Our Nervous System and More!
by Seymour Simon (Author)

The human brain is behind everything you do. From taking your first step to creating the computer, this vital organ gives humans the ability to learn and adapt to an ever-changing world. Learn all about your amazing, versatile brain with award-winning science writer Seymour Simon.

View Details


The Human Brain Coloring Book (Coloring Concepts Series)
by Marian C. Diamond (Author), Arnold B. Scheibel (Author)

Developed by internationally renowned neurosurgeons, this unique book is designed for students of psychology and the biological sciences, and medical, dental, and nursing students. View Details


Switch On Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health
by Dr. Caroline Leaf (Author)

According to researchers, the vast majority--a whopping 75-98 percent--of the illnesses that plague us today are a direct result of our thought life. What we think about truly affects us both physically and emotionally. In fact, fear alone triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses in our bodies, activating more than thirty different hormones! Today our culture is undergoing an epidemic of toxic thoughts that, left unchecked, create ideal conditions for illnesses.

Supported by current scientific and medical research, Dr. Caroline Leaf gives readers a prescription... View Details


The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science
by Norman Doidge (Author)

An astonishing new science called "neuroplasticity" is overthrowing the centuries-old notion that the human brain is immutable. In this revolutionary look at the brain, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Norman Doidge, M.D., provides an introduction to both the brilliant scientists championing neuroplasticity and the people whose lives they've transformed. From stroke patients learning to speak again to the remarkable case of a woman born with half a brain that rewired itself to work as a whole, The Brain That Changes Itself will permanently alter the way we look at our brains, human... View Details


Brain Games® Crime Scene Investigation
by Editors of Publications International Ltd. (Author)

Use your verbal, visual, and logic skills to investigate 150+ puzzles!
This puzzle collection contains a mix of verbal and visual puzzles themed around crime scene investigation. Match fingerprints, see what you remember about crime scenes, detect visual anomalies, solve verbal puzzles related to crime, and search for solutions. View Details


My First Book About the Brain (Dover Children's Science Books)
by Patricia J. Wynne (Author), Donald M. Silver (Author)

Winner of a Bronze 2014 Moonbeam Children's Book Award!
Discover the workings of the body's most complex organ! How does the brain control the rest of the body? How does it enable the senses to function, regulate speech, affect balance, and influence sleep and dreams? These 25 illustrations to color explain every aspect of the brain's important jobs, from communicating with the central nervous system to retaining memories. Suitable for ages 8–12. View Details


The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist's Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults
by Frances E. Jensen (Author), Amy Ellis Nutt (Author)

A New York Times Bestseller

Renowned neurologist Dr. Frances E. Jensen offers a revolutionary look at the brains of teenagers, dispelling myths and offering practical advice for teens, parents and teachers.

Dr. Frances E. Jensen is chair of the department of neurology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. As a mother, teacher, researcher, clinician, and frequent lecturer to parents and teens, she is in a unique position to explain to readers the workings of the... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2017

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2017. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Simple Solutions
Sometimes, the best solutions to complex problems are simple. But simple doesn't always mean easy. This hour, TED speakers describe the innovation and hard work that goes into achieving simplicity. Guests include designer Mileha Soneji, chef Sam Kass, sleep researcher Wendy Troxel, public health advocate Myriam Sidibe, and engineer Amos Winter.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#448 Pavlov (Rebroadcast)
This week, we're learning about the life and work of a groundbreaking physiologist whose work on learning and instinct is familiar worldwide, and almost universally misunderstood. We'll spend the hour with Daniel Todes, Ph.D, Professor of History of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University, discussing his book "Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science."