Developmentally specified characterization of the irritability spectrum at early school age: Implications for pragmatic mental health screening
OBJECTIVES/OBJECTIVE:Developmentally specified measures that identify clinically salient irritability are needed for early school-age youth to meaningfully capture this transdiagnostic risk factor for psychopathology. Thus, the current study modeled the normal:abnormal irritability spectrum and generated a clinically optimized screening tool for this population. METHODS:The irritability spectrum was modeled via the youth version of the Multidimensional Assessment Profile Scales-Temper Loss Scale (MAPS-TL-Youth) in children (n = 474; 6.0-8.9 years) using item response theory (IRT). Both cross-cutting core irritability items from the early childhood version and new developmentally specific items were included. Items uniquely associated with impairment were identified and used to derive a brief, clinically optimized irritability screener. Longitudinal data were then utilized to test the predictive utility of this clinically optimized screener in preadolescence (n = 348; 8.0-12.9 years). RESULTS:Most children exhibit irritability regularly, but daily occurrence was rare. Of the top 10 most severe items from the IRT analyses, 9 were from the developmentally specific items added for the MAPS-TL Youth version. Two items associated with concurrent impairment were identified for the clinically optimized irritability screener ("Become frustrated easily" and "Act irritable"). The MAPS-TL-Youth clinically optimized screener demonstrated good sensitivity (69%) and specificity (84%) in relation to concurrent DSM 5 irritability-related diagnoses. Youth with elevated scores on the screener at early school age (ESA) had more than 7x greater odds of irritability-related psychopathology at pre-adolescence. CONCLUSIONS:The MAPS-TL-Youth characterized the developmental spectrum of irritability at ESA and a clinically optimized screener showed promise at predicting psychopathology risk. Rigorous testing of clinical applications is a critical next step.
Understanding Phasic Irritability: Anger and Distress in Children's Temper Outbursts
Pediatric irritability can be highly impairing and is implicated in adverse outcomes. The phasic component, characterized by temper outbursts, is a frequent impetus to seek treatment. This study tested whether a previously described anger-distress model of tantrums applies to an outpatient sample of school-age children with clinically impairing temper outbursts (TO; 5.0-9.9Â years; Nâ€‰=â€‰86), and examined the clinical relevance of resulting factors through associations with measures of psychopathology, and differences between children with TO and two groups without: children with ADHD (nâ€‰=â€‰60) and healthy controls (nâ€‰=â€‰45). Factor analyses established a three-factor model: High Anger, Low Anger, Distress. These factors had unique associations with measures of irritability, externalizing problems, and internalizing problems in the TO group. Additionally, an interaction between groups and outburst factors emerged.Â Results provide evidence for the presence and clinical utility of the anger-distress model in children's outbursts and suggest avenues for future pediatric irritability research.
Parental Factors That Confer Risk and Resilience for Remote Learning Outcomes During the COVID-19 Pandemic Among Children With and Without Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
OBJECTIVE/UNASSIGNED:To test whether parental factors including internalizing symptoms, parenting style, and confidence in assisting with remote learning conferred risk/resilience for children with/without ADHD's learning and emotional outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHOD/UNASSIGNED:= 148) and without ADHD completed questionnaires online (April-July 2020). RESULTS/UNASSIGNED:Structural equation modeling identified parental risk/resilience factors. Across groups, risk predicted greater difficulties with learning, internalizing and externalizing symptoms, while parent confidence in educating their child predicted better outcomes. A positive association was observed between parental involvement and child difficulties, which was stronger in families of children with ADHD. Children with/without ADHD did not differ in remote learning difficulties. CONCLUSION/UNASSIGNED:Parent factors impacted child emotional and learning outcomes during the pandemic. With increases in remote learning practices, there is a need for improved understanding of how parent factors impact outcomes of children with/without ADHD.
A preliminary examination of key strategies, challenges, and benefits of remote learning expressed by parents during the COVID-19 pandemic
Among the many impacts of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, one of the most dramatic was the immediate closure of in-person schooling in March/April 2020 when parents were faced with much greater responsibility in supporting their children's learning. Despite this, few studies have examined parents' own perspectives of this experience. The aims of this preliminary study were to (a) identify challenges, benefits, and useful strategies related to remote learning and (b) examine differences in findings across two countries, between parents of youth with and without attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and between parents of children and adolescents. To address these aims, parent responses to open-ended questions on the Home Adjustment to COVID-19 Scale (HACS; Becker, Breaux, et al., 2020) were examined across three studies conducted in the United States and Australia (N = 606, children: 68.5% male, ages 6-17 years). The challenges most frequently expressed by parents included the child's difficulty staying on task (23.8% of parents), lack of motivation (18.3%), remote learning factors (17.8%), and lack of social interaction (14.4%). The most frequently expressed strategy related to using routines and schedules (58.2%) and the biggest benefit was more family time (20.3%). Findings were largely consistent across countries, ADHD status, and age, with a few notable group differences. Given that the most common challenges involved child- (e.g., difficulties with staying on task and motivation), parent- (e.g., balancing remote learning with work responsibilities), and school- (e.g., remote instruction difficulties) related factors, there is a need for improved support across these systems going forward. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
fMRI and Other Neuroimaging Methods
[S.l.] : Elsevier, 2022
Editorial: Time to Rock the Boat: A Call for Developmental Psychopathology Approaches to Diagnostic Nosology [Editorial]
The publication of DSM-5 came with a number of significant advances, including shifts in disorder classifications and a new focus on dimensional assessment.1 It also introduced disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (DMDD), which was met with some criticism and concern. Although there was research to support the establishment of this new diagnosis aimed at improving classification of children and adolescents with persistent and impairing irritability,2 specific symptoms and definitions of frequency and impairment were not as empirically supported, and concerns arose regarding validity and reliability.3 The introduction of new diagnoses is a complex endeavor, particularly for disorders affecting children and adolescents, which require consideration of the immense neural, cognitive, and emotional changes occurring during this developmental period. Rigorous approaches grounded in developmental psychopathology are needed to establish a meaningful and clinically useful set of symptoms and associated characteristics. This is the approach that Wiggins etÂ al.4 take to address the applicability of the DMDD diagnosis for children below the age of 6 years. Although this minimum age was included in DSM-5 to prevent unwarranted labeling of young children for whom temper outbursts are common,5 it fails to consider growing evidence of impairing irritability in preschoolers and limits identification of children who would benefit from early interventions. In response to this, these authors take a comprehensive bottom-up approach to empirically identify symptoms and to define limits of clinical severity, tailored specifically to preschool-aged children. As such, this study serves as a model of how to develop and to refine the diagnostic nosology of child psychiatric disorders.
Functional connectivity of the anterior insula associated with intolerance of uncertainty in youth
Intolerance of uncertainty (IU) is a trait characteristic marked by distress in the face of insufficient information. Elevated IU has been implicated in the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders, particularly during adolescence, which is characterized by dramatic neural maturation and the onset of anxiety disorders. Previous task-based work implicates the bilateral anterior insula in IU. However, the association between anterior insula intrinsic functional connectivity (iFC) and IU has not been examined in adolescents. Fifty-eight healthy youth (mean age = 12.56; 55% boys) completed the Intolerance of Uncertainty Scale for Children (IUSC-12) and a 6-minute resting state fMRI scan. Group-level analyses were conducted using a random-effects, ordinary least-squares model, including IUSC-12 scores (Total, Inhibitory subscale, Prospective subscale), and three nuisance covariates (age, sex, and mean framewise displacement). IUSC-12 Inhibitory subscale scores were predictive of iFC between the left and right anterior insula and right prefrontal regions. IUSC-12 Prospective subscale scores significantly predicted iFC between the anterior insula and the anterior cingulate cortex. IUSC-12 total scores did not predict significant iFC of the bilateral anterior insula. Follow-up analyses, including anxiety (MASC Total Score) in the models, failed to find significant results. This could suggest that the associations found between IUSC-12 scores and anterior insula iFC are not unique to IU and, rather, reflect a broader anxiety-related connectivity pattern. Further studies with larger samples are needed to tease apart unique associations. These findings bear significance in contributing to the literature evaluating the neural correlates of risk factors for anxiety in youth.
Advances in the Conceptualization, Assessment, and Treatment of Pediatric Irritability [Editorial]
Pediatric irritability is a functionally impairing transdiagnostic symptom underlying a substantial proportion of child mental health referrals. The past 20â€¯years have witnessed a striking uptick in empirical work focused on pediatric irritability, with increasing recognition of its role across multiple internalizing and externalizing disorders. That said, it has only been in recent years that research has begun to make advances in understanding the natural course and neurobiological underpinnings of irritability across development; research directly informing effective clinical management of pediatric irritability has been limited. At this critical stage in the study of pediatric irritability, this special series brings together the latest work from leading experts across three interrelated domains: (a) progress in understanding the phenomenology and course of pediatric irritability; (b) advances in the assessment of pediatric irritability; and (c) innovations in the treatment of pediatric irritability. The papers in this special series collectively offer critical steps forward for better understanding pediatric irritability and improving proper assessment, classification, and clinical management.
A Preliminary Investigation of the Effects of a Western Diet on Hippocampal Volume in Children
Introduction: Over the course of the 20th century, there has been a sharp increase in the consumption of saturated fat and refined sugars. This so-called "western diet" (WD) has been extensively linked to biological alterations and associated functional deficits in the hippocampus of animals. However, the effects of a WD on the human hippocampus are less well-characterized. This preliminary study aimed to extend prior animal work by investigating the effects of a WD on hippocampal volume in children. Methods: Twenty-one healthy children (ages 5-9) completed a structural T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging scan. Bilateral hippocampal volumes (as regions-of-interest) and bilateral amygdala volumes (as medial temporal lobe control regions-of-interest) were calculated. WD variables were derived from the parent-completed Youth/Adolescent Food Frequency Questionnaire. Specifically, variables were calculated as percent of daily calories consumed from sugars, fats, or a combination of these (WD). Results: While the relationships between overall WD consumption and bilateral hippocampal volumes were not significant, increased fat consumption was significantly related to decreased left hippocampal volume. Sugar consumption was not related to hippocampal size. Control region volumes were not related to any diet variables. Discussion: This study is the first to directly link diet-specifically fat consumption-to decreased left hippocampal volume in children. This extends previous work showing smaller left hippocampal volume related to obesity in pediatric samples. Though preliminary, findings represent an important step toward understanding the impact of diet on child brain development.
Heterogeneity of the Anxiety-Related Attention Bias: A Review and Working Model for Future Research
The anxiety-related attention bias (AB) has been studied for several decades as a clinically-relevant output of the dynamic and complex threat detection-response system. Despite research enthusiasm for the construct of AB, current theories and measurement approaches cannot adequately account for the growing body of mixed, contradictory, and null findings. Drawing on clinical, neuroscience, and animal models, we argue that the apparent complexity and contradictions in the empirical literature can be attributed to the field's failure to clearly conceptualize AB heterogeneity and the dearth of studies in AB that consider additional cognitive mechanisms in anxiety, particularly disruptions in threat-safety discrimination and cognitive control. We review existing research and propose a working model of AB heterogeneity positing that AB may be best conceptualized as multiple subtypes of dysregulated processing of and attention to threat anchored in individual differences in threat-safety discrimination and cognitive control. We review evidence for this working model and discuss how it can be used to advance knowledge of AB mechanisms and inform personalized prevention and intervention approaches.