HomeHealth & FitnessAre there structural brain differences associated with suicidal thoughts in youth?

Are there structural brain differences associated with suicidal thoughts in youth?

A new study by a global team of researchers including USC’s Mark and Neda Jahanshad, PhD, of the Keck School of Medicine at the Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute (Stevens INI), reveals subtle changes in the shape of the prefrontal region of the brain in young adults. has done. Mood disorders and people with suicidal thoughts and behavior. The study was recently published in


“Along with my colleagues at Stevens INI, an international team of neuroscientists, psychologists and psychiatrists came together under the National Institute on Mental Health-funded part of the NIGMA Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors (NIGMA-STB) Working Group, the NIGMA Consortium . , to collect together the amount of data needed for this type of study. Suicidal behaviors occur in many mental illnesses, so instead of focusing on a single illness in small samples, we pulled together researchers whose PASS had data on suicidal behavior in young people and coordinated a large-scale team science initiative to compare data for disorders here, with a focus on youth,” Jahanshad said.

“Benefiting from the large dataset we have available, we were able to perform the analysis in multiple sub-samples,” elaborates Laura van Velgen, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Center for Youth Mental Health and first author of the study.


“We started with data from a small group of young people with mood disorders for whom very detailed information about suicide was available. Next, we went larger and more in terms of the type of diagnosis and the tools used. Were able to look at a variety of samples to assess suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Our results show subtle changes in the shape of the frontal pole, a prefrontal region, in this first sample of young people, and suggest that these associations may be absent or more difficult in more diverse samples. In addition to revealing subtle changes in prefrontal brain structure associated with suicidal behavior in young people, our study demonstrates the strength of combining data from 21 international studies and the need to carefully harmonize data across studies.”

Van Welgen said, “The structural brain differences we found were very subtle, meaning that most people with a history of suicidal behavior have brains that are not very different from people without a history of suicidal behavior, who are convinced Is.” “However, the subtle differences we found provide us with a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in suicidal behavior and may ultimately provide important targets for more effective suicide prevention strategies for the next generation.”

Armed with these results, the research team is drawing attention to the urgent need for further study of this scope. Ongoing work by the same group will include expanded analysis with the goal of including additional age groups and exploring other features such as brain connectivity.

“The study provides evidence to support an optimistic future in which we will find new and better ways to reduce the risk of suicide. It is particularly hopeful that scientists, such as our co-authors on this paper, will be at large. Coming together in collaborative efforts hold great promise,” said study co-author Lian Schmall, PhD, associate professor, University of Melbourne.

In addition to her research work for the ENIGMA Consortium at Stevens INI, Jahanshad also takes a social approach to her work on mental illness. She serves as faculty sponsor for Trojan Support, a peer organization that provides students with the opportunity to connect with fellow Trojans trained for support and thoughtful conversations to promote mental and emotional well-being. Jahanshad mentored Armand Amini, president and founder of Trojan Support, while he researched brain mapping to better understand suicide risk factors at Stevens INI. Amini decided to form the organization after recognizing the need for a peer group for those uncomfortable with seeking professional help.

“This study exemplifies the power of researchers such as Dr. Jahanshad and colleagues, who seek to unite with experts from around the world to better understand and collect significant amounts of data,” INI Director, Arthur W. Toga, Says PhD.

“The goal of the NIGMA consortium is to bring together researchers from around the world so that we can combine existing data samples and really improve our power to investigate the brain in these potentially devastating mental illnesses. Additionally, our faculty and Prior collaborative efforts students like Armand Amini show our commitment to putting our research into practical use for the benefit of the USC community and beyond.”

Source: Eurekalert

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