Longitudinal Adolescent Brain Study (LABS) researchers will publish group level non-identifiable data in scientific journals and present at conferences. All publications will be available through USC Research Bank.
The data so far
We are constantly gathering data on youth mental health, and using it to update our dashboards and graphs.
View the webinar recording to hear how cutting-edge neuroscience might predict whether a young person will develop a mental illness, and what this could mean for the future of mental healthcare.
Read about this research in our article in The Conversation or view the research paper.
Published in Discover Psychology
Findings: Structural equation modeling revealed significant associations between cyberbullying, cybervictimisation, metacognitive beliefs, and quality of life (QoL). However, mediation analysis showed that only cognitive confidence acted as a partial mediator between cybervictimisation and QoL. The results suggest those who were more frequently cybervictimised had reduced confidence in their memory, which resulted in lower QoL. In addition, uncontrollability/danger and superstition, punishment, and responsibility were all negatively associated with QoL, indicating that as these metacognitive beliefs increased, QoL decreased. Our findings highlight the detrimental impact that cybervictimisation experiences can have on QoL in young people over time, and that some forms of metacognitive beliefs can also impact QoL. These findings can inform educators and health professionals on the importance of metacognition in regard to QoL over time, particularly in those who experience cybervictimisation.
Published in Brain Research
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This cross-sectional study examined relationships between grey matter volume (GMV) of
basal ganglia regions (caudate, putamen, pallidum and nucleus accumbens) and self-reported wellbeing
(COMPAS-W), in a sample of Australian adolescents aged 12 years (N = 49, M = 12.6, 46.9% female). Significant negative associations were found between left hemisphere caudate GMV and scores on ‘total wellbeing’, ‘composure’ and ‘positivity’. The results of this study indicate that smaller caudate GMV at age 12 is linked to increased subjective wellbeing. While seemingly counter-intuitive, our finding is consistent with previous research of decreased GMV in the pons and increased COMPAS-W scores in adults. Our results suggest that protective neurobiological factors may be identifiable early in adolescence and be linked to specific types of wellbeing (such as positive affect and optimism). This has implications for interventions targeted at building resilience against mental health disorders in young people.
- Flexible analysis pipeline identifies EEG-based clusters of individuals.
- Clusters of 12-year-olds differentiated by resting state EEG characteristics.
- Novel evidence on empirical, data-driven neurophysiological subgroups.
- Bayesian models find differences in distress, sleep and cognition between clusters.
- Potential applications for risk prediction and early intervention in adolescence.
We provided the dataset of brain connectome matrices, their similarities measures to self and others longitudinally, and Kessler's psychological distress scales (K10) including the response to each question. The dataset can be used to replicate the results of the manuscript titled “A longitudinal study of functional connectome uniqueness and its association with psychological distress in adolescence”. The functional connectome (whole-brain and 13 networks) matrices were calculated from the resting-state functional MRIs (rs-fMRIs). We collected rs-fMRI and Kessler's psychological distress scale (K10) in 77 adolescents longitudinally up to 9 times from 12 years of age every four months. After removal of data with excessive motion, 262 functional connectome matrices were provided with this paper. The 300 regions of interest (ROIs) were defined using the Greene lab brain atlas. The functional connectome matrices were calculated as correlations between time series from any pair of ROIs extracted from pre-processed fMRIs. This dataset could be potentially used to
- Understand developmental changes in the functional brain connectivity
- As a normal control database of functional connectome matrices
- Develop and validate connectome and network-related analysing methods.
Adolescence is a period of significant brain development and decreased sleep quality, making it an ideal period to investigate early indicators of anxiety disorders such as psychological distress. The amygdala and hippocampus have been implicated in the neurobiology of anxiety symptoms. Sex-based differences in anxiety symptoms and sleep quality suggest sex-specific indicators may be preferable to a “one size fits all” approach. N = 70 early adolescents (12 years) completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Kessler psychological distress scale (K10) and MRI scanning. Female participants were found to be poorer sleepers and to have higher psychological distress levels. Females also had larger right amygdala and hippocampal volumes than males controlling for total brain volume. Findings of sex-based differences in amygdala and hippocampal volumes as well as sleep and psychological distress at age 12 may represent an important step in elucidating sex specific early indicators of future mental health disorders.
Published in the International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience
Key finding: Reduced radial diffusivity & increased fractional anisotropy in the UF suggesting possible myelination; sleep quality also associated with this myelination process. Elucidating how sleep, psychological distress and maturation of the UF may co-develop during early adolescence.
Published in Scientific Reports
Key finding: The Bayesian Network approach provides some evidence that high psychological distress in 12 year olds appears to be linked with poor diet, social connectedness and sleep.
Published in Journal of Adolescence
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Sleep quality (PSQI total) was significantly poorer during COVID compared with pre-
COVID. Sleep onset latency measured pre-COVID was significantly associated with COVID-specific
worry and rumination. While the structural integrity of a number of WM tracts
(measured pre-COVID) were found to be significantly associated with COVID-specific worry and
rumination. Follow-up regression analysis using a model including pre-COVID sleep onset latency,
structural integrity of the posterior limb of the internal capsule (PLIC), gender and change
in PSQI explained a significant 47% of the variance in COVID-specific worry and rumination.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that adolescents with poor sleep quality and perturbed WM
integrity may be at risk of heightened reactivity to future stressful events and interventions should
focus on improving sleep onset latency.
Read this paper published in Psychiatry Research
- In the first 50 LABS participants (all 12 years old): 16% had psychological distress levels that were consistent with having a mental disorder; 20% reported suicidal ideation
- Sleep and social connectedness are important external modulators mental wellbeing
- Systems thinking (a wholistic approach to analysis) is key to understanding and improving adolescent mental health
- A heatmap matrix that illustrates the overall associations between influences on and indicators for adolescent mental health
Read this paper, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
- In this study of 40 LABS participants (12 years old), we found associations between increased mental health problems and a processing bias for anger and fear negative facial expressions.
- This indicates that increased psychological problems may negatively impact on social cognition and functioning in early adolescents (or vice versa; hence the importance of longitudinal studies).
Read the full paper, published in the Journal of Adolescence
Significant correlations were found between the posterior limb of the internal capsule and the PSQI total sleep quality and sleep latency scores. There was also a significant difference in sleep duration between male and female participants.
These findings provide an important insight of the impact that sleep may have on early adolescent WM development. Ongoing longitudinal assessment of sleep on WM development across adolescence is likely to provide further important information about how WM maturation relates to variations in sleep quality as circadian rhythm changes occur during middle and late adolescence.
- Consistent with previous findings, bivariate correlations revealed significant positive linear relationships between K10 total score and (i) PSQI total score; (ii) sleep quality; (iii) daytime dysfunction; and (iv) sleep disturbance. However, contrary to previous findings, there was no significant correlation between K10 scores and sleep duration.
- The association between sleep quality and psychological distress in early adolescents provides some important clues about the role that sleep may play in predicting the onset of anxiety and depressive disorders. Longitudinal studies should be undertaken to investigate age-related changes in sleep and psychological distress.
Read this paper, published in Developmental Neuroscience
- In this specialised brain imaging study of 32 LABS participants we found that sub-sections of the amygdala and hippocampus, two brain structures which play significant roles in the control of emotion and memory, respectively, are significantly reduced in volume in those with increasing levels of psychological distress.
- Investigating the Links between Adolescent Sleep Deprivation, Fronto-limbic connectivity and the Onset of Mental Disorders: A Review of the Literature
- Phase–Amplitude Coupling, Mental Health and Cognition: Implications for Adolescence
- The role of adolescent sleep quality in the development of anxiety disorders: A neurobiologically-informed model
- Research Topic: Different ways to help those with mental illness. A collection of papers presenting how mental health researchers are constantly working on ways to help people will illnesses such as anxiety and depression. Five of these papers were presented at the Frontiers for Young Minds Live Review: Special Plenary Session at Society for Mental Health Research 2018. An initiative of the Thompson Institute. Check out the video.
- "How cyberbullies overtly and covertly target their victims." The Conversation, February 2018. Dr Larisa McLoughlin is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Sunshine Coast Mind & Neuroscience Thompson Institute, USC and member of the LABS research team.
- McLoughlin L and Hermens D (2018) Cyberbullying and Social Connectedness. Frontiers for Young Minds. 6:54. doi: 10.3389/frym.2018.00054
- Kennedy M, McLouglin L and Clacy A (2019) Telling Someone or Telling on Someone - Is There a Difference? Frontiers for Young Minds. 7:117 doi: 10.3389/frym.2019.00117
- Frontiers for Young Minds is an open-access scientific journal written by scientists and reviewed by a board of young reviewers. The journal offers a range of science specialities, including neuroscience.
Published in Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking
Structural equation modeling revealed a mediating effect of social connectedness on the relationship between cyberbullying and well-being. In other words, the negative influences of cyberbullying and cybervictimization on well-being scores over time are influenced by levels of social connectedness. The present findings highlight that increased social connectedness in young people is vital to promoting positive well-being over time and can protect wellbeing in those experiencing cyberbullying and/or cybervictimization. Findings can inform cyberbullying education programs, health care practitioners, parents, and educators on the importance of young people remaining socially connected when experiencing cyberbullying and/or cybervictimization.