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Recent evidence suggests that anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) maturation during adolescence contributes to or underlies the development of major depressive disorder (MDD) during this sensitive period. The ACC is a structure that sits at the intersection of several task-positive networks (eg, central executive network, CEN), which are still developing during adolescence. While recent work using seed-based approaches indicate that depressed adolescents show limited task-evoked vs resting-state connectivity (termed 'inflexibility') between the ACC and task-negative networks, no study has used network-based approaches to investigate inflexibility of the ACC in task-positive networks to understand adolescent MDD. Here, we used graph theory to compare flexibility of network-level topology in eight subregions of the ACC (spanning three task-positive networks) in 42 unmedicated adolescents with MDD and 53 well-matched healthy controls. All participants underwent fMRI scanning during resting state and a response inhibition task that robustly engages task-positive networks. Relative to controls, depressed adolescents were characterized by inflexibility in local efficiency of a key ACC node in the CEN: right dorsal anterior cingulate cortex/medial frontal gyrus (R dACC/MFG). Furthermore, individual differences in flexibility of local efficiency of R dACC/MFG significantly predicted inhibition performance, consistent with current literature demonstrating that flexible network organization affords successful cognitive control. Finally, reduced local efficiency of dACC/MFG during the task was significantly associated with an earlier age of depression onset, consistent with prior work suggesting that MDD may alter functional network development. Our results support a neurodevelopmental hypothesis of MDD wherein dysfunctional self-regulation is potentially reflected by altered ACC maturation.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





2434 - 2445


Adolescent, Adolescent Behavior, Depressive Disorder, Major, Female, Gyrus Cinguli, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Nerve Net, Reaction Time