WP 6: Structural and functional neuroimaging of emotion processing in Conduct Disorder
Objectives and Tasks of the Workpackage
This work package is led by the Senior Lecturer in the Academic Unit of Psychology at the University of Southampton, Dr. Graeme Fairchild. Dr. Stephane De Brito, who is based in the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham, is the task leader for the structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) elements of WP6, and the development of the structural and functional MRI protocols used in the multi-site study.
The main objectives of WP6 are to investigate brain structure and function in female adolescents with Conduct Disorder and typically-developing adolescents using a cross-sectional design. Male adolescents with Conduct Disorder and male healthy controls will also be included in the study, to examine whether previous findings in this field can be replicated and extended. The participants will be aged between 9 and 18 years at the time of the baseline assessment. However, we will also perform follow up imaging assessments with a subgroup of the participants around 18 months later to study the impact of pubertal development on brain structure and assess relationships between behavioural changes and brain development.
Given that WP6 involves collecting MRI data at multiple sites in the UK, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, an important goal of this work package is to establish quality assurance and site qualification procedures and structural and functional MRI protocols that are comparable across sites, with the aim of ultimately merging the data to form the largest MRI dataset available on Conduct Disorder anywhere in the world. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the dataset, it may be possible to integrate environmental, genetic, neuroendocrine, and psychophysiological data with neuroimagingdata (e.g., to examine brain structure changes potentially underpinning gene × environmental interactions). The study will also be adequately powered to test for sex differences in the relationship between brain structure or function and Conduct Disorder and to explore heterogeneity within Conduct Disorder by testing subtypingapproaches (e.g., comparing those with and without callous-unemotional traits, or contrasting those with childhood-onset versus adolescence-onset forms of Conduct Disorder).
The study will investigate grey and white matter volume, cortical thickness and the microstructural integrity of white-matter pathways in the participants using a range of approaches and analytic methods. We will also investigate neural activity in adolescents with Conduct Disorder and typically-developing controls using a series of functional MRI tasks measuring facial emotion processing, reward learning, empathy, and emotion regulation.
Finally, a proportion of the eligible participants in the randomized controlled trial (RCT; WP7) will be scanned prior to participating in the RCT, and again after 12 weeks of treatment, to investigate for structural and functional MRI predictors of treatment response.