Reduced dorsal striatal gray matter volume predicts implicit suicidal ideation in adolescents. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience Ho, T. C., Cichocki, A., Gifuni, A. J., Catalina Camacho, M., Ordaz, S. J., Singh, M. K., Gotlib, I. H. 2018


Suicidal ideation (SI), a potent risk factor for suicide attempts, increases in adolescence. While alterations in dopaminergic functioning have been implicated in suicidal acts-particularly in adults-we do not know whether morphological alterations in dopamine-rich regions of the brain, such as the striatum, are vulnerability factors for the emergence of SI in adolescents. At baseline, a community sample of 152 adolescents (89 female; mean age: 11.41 ± 1.01 years) completed an MRI scan that was used to estimate gray matter volumes (GMV) of three striatal structures: caudate, nucleus accumbens, and putamen. At a 24-month follow-up session, participants completed a self-report measure of suicidal ideation frequency (SIQ) and the death-version of the Implicit Association Test (IAT). Robust linear regression models were conducted to predict SIQ and IAT scores from striatal GMV. Bilateral putamen and left caudate GMV significantly predicted IAT scores (all ps<0.03). No other associations were significant (all ps>0.05). Our finding of reduced dorsal striatal GMV predicting implicit SI may indicate that downstream dopaminergic dysfunction is implicated in the development of overt suicidal behaviors. Self-reported SI was not associated with striatal GMV, suggesting that biological correlates of suicide risk may correlate specifically with objective measurements of SI in adolescents.

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