Archival Report| Volume 89, ISSUE 6, P560-569, March 15, 2021

Negative Parenting Affects Adolescent Internalizing Symptoms Through Alterations in Amygdala-Prefrontal Circuitry: A Longitudinal Twin Study

  • Author Footnotes
    1 NJ and JX contributed equally to this work.
    Nengzhi Jiang
    1 NJ and JX contributed equally to this work.
    Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

    School of Psychology, Weifang Medical University, Weifang, China

    Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
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  • Author Footnotes
    1 NJ and JX contributed equally to this work.
    Jiahua Xu
    1 NJ and JX contributed equally to this work.
    State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China

    IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China

    Beijing Key Laboratory of Brain Imaging and Connectomics, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China

    Chinese Institute for Brain Research, Beijing, China
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  • Xinying Li
    Address correspondence to Xinying Li, Ph.D.
    Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

    Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
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  • Yanyu Wang
    School of Psychology, Weifang Medical University, Weifang, China
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  • Liping Zhuang
    State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China

    IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China

    Beijing Key Laboratory of Brain Imaging and Connectomics, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China

    Chinese Institute for Brain Research, Beijing, China
    Search for articles by this author
  • Shaozheng Qin
    Shaozheng Qin, Ph.D., at
    State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China

    IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China

    Beijing Key Laboratory of Brain Imaging and Connectomics, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China

    Chinese Institute for Brain Research, Beijing, China
    Search for articles by this author
  • Author Footnotes
    1 NJ and JX contributed equally to this work.



      The synergic interaction of risk genes and environmental factors has been thought to play a critical role in mediating emotion-related brain circuitry function and dysfunction in depression and anxiety disorders. Little, however, is known regarding neurodevelopmental bases underlying how maternal negative parenting affects emotion-related brain circuitry linking to adolescent internalizing symptoms and whether this neurobehavioral association is heritable during adolescence.


      The effects of maternal parenting on amygdala-based emotional circuitry and internalizing symptoms were examined by using longitudinal functional magnetic resonance imaging among 100 monozygotic twins and 78 dizygotic twins from early adolescence (age 13 years) to mid-adolescence (age 16 years). The mediation effects among variables of interest and their heritability were assessed by structural equation modeling and quantitative genetic analysis, respectively.


      Exposure to maternal negative parenting was positively predictive of stronger functional connectivity of the amygdala with the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. This neural pathway mediated the association between negative parenting and adolescent depressive symptoms and exhibited moderate heritability (21%).


      These findings highlight that maternal negative parenting in early adolescence is associated with the development of atypical amygdala-prefrontal connectivity in relation to internalizing depressive symptoms in mid-adolescence. Such abnormality of emotion-related brain circuitry is heritable to a moderate degree.


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