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© 2020 The Author(s) Adults with a history of depression show distinct patterns of grey matter volume (GMV) in frontal cortical (e.g., prefrontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex) and limbic (e.g., anterior cingulate, amygdala, hippocampus, dorsal striatum) structures, regions relevant to the processing and regulation of reward, which is impaired in the context of depression. However, it is unclear whether these GMV associations with depression precede depressive disorder onset or whether GMV is related to early emerging symptoms or familial depression. To address these questions, we used voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to examine GMV in 85 community-dwelling children (M = 11.12 years, SD = 0.63 years) screened for current and lifetime depression. Associations between children's depressive symptoms (self- and mother-report of children's symptoms), children's maternal depression history, and GMV were examined. Although maternal depression history was unrelated to children's GMV, child GMV in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) was negatively related to children's self-reported depressive symptoms, using both a priori ROI and whole-brain analyses. Moderated regression analyses indicated that girls’ GMV was negatively related to girls’ depressive symptoms (as indexed by both self- and mother-report of girls’ symptoms), whereas boys’ symptoms were positively related to GMV. Our findings suggest that brain morphology in the OFC, a region with functional roles in processes relevant to depressive symptoms (i.e., reward-based learning and reward processing), is associated with early depressive symptoms prior to the development of clinically significant depression.
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