Vulnerabilities in sequencing and task switching in healthy youth offspring of parents with mood disorders JOURNAL OF CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL NEUROPSYCHOLOGY Singh, M. K., Leslie, S. M., Bhattacharjee, K., Gross, M., Weisman, E. F., Soudi, L. M., Phillips, O. R., Onopa, A. 2018; 40 (6): 606–18


Visuospatial processing and task switching are impaired in individuals with mood disorders. It is unknown whether early deficits are present before mood symptom on set or are related to risk for a specific type of mood disorder. To investigate, we compared visual attention and task switching during sequencing among never-disordered youth with parental family histories of bipolar (BD) and major depressive disorders (MDD) and healthy controls (HC) with no personal or family history of psychopathology.8-17-year-old youth of parents with BD (n = 31, "BD-risk"), youth of parents with MDD (n = 49, "MDD-risk"), and demographically similar HC (n = 31, "HC") were examined using the Delis-Kaplan Executive Functioning System Trail Making Test. Seed-based resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) was collected from a subset of 88 participants (25 BD-risk, 37 MDD-risk, 26 HC) to investigate group differences in RSFC related to visuospatial processing.BD-risk and MDD-risk offspring had impaired sequencing and task switching, demonstrated by reduced scores on visual scanning, F(2, 108) = 4.12, p = .02, number sequencing, F(2, 88) = 4.75, p = .01, letter sequencing, F(2, 108) = 4.24, p = .02, and number-letter sequencing, F(2, 108) = 4.66, p = .01, compared to scores in HC. RSFC between the posterior cingulate (PCC) and clusters in the subcallosal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus significantly differed among HC, BD-risk, and MDD-risk groups. PCC-subcallosal/limbic RSFC was positively coupled in the MDD-risk and BD-risk groups and negatively coupled in HCs.Youth at familial risk for mood disorders demonstrate visuospatial deficits early in the processing stream. Improved methods for identifying at-risk children with the earliest possible neurocognitive impairments may inform remediation strategies that could prevent mood disorders.

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