Right Anterior Cingulate Cortical Thickness and Bilateral Striatal Volume Correlate with CBCL Aggressive Behavior Scores in Healthy Children


Background—The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), orbito-frontal cortex (OFC) and basal ganglia have been implicated in pathological aggression. This study aimed at identifying neuroanatomical correlates of impulsive aggression in healthy children. Methods—Data from 193 representative 6–18 year-old healthy children were obtained from the NIH MRI Study of Normal Brain Development after a blinded quality control (1). Cortical thickness and subcortical volumes were obtained with automated software. Aggression levels were measured with the Aggressive Behavior scale (AGG) of the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). AGG scores were regressed against cortical thickness and basal ganglia volumes using first and second-order linear models while controlling for age, gender, scanner site and total brain volume. ‘Gender by AGG’ interactions were analyzed. Results—There were positive associations between bilateral striatal volumes and AGG scores (right: r=0.238, p=0.001; left: r=0.188, p=0.01). A significant association was found with right ACC and subgenual ACC cortical thickness in a second-order linear model (p<0.05, corrected). High AGG scores were associated with a relatively thin right ACC cortex. An ‘AGG by gender’ interaction trend was found in bilateral OFC and ACC associations with AGG scores. Conclusion—This study shows the existence of relationships between impulsive aggression in healthy children and the structure of the striatum and right ACC. It also suggests the existence of © 2011 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. All communications should be directed to Dr. Sherif Karama, (sherif.karama@mail.mcgill.ca), 3801 University, Montreal, QC, Canada (H3A 2B5), Phone: 514-398-6644 #00497, Fax: 514-398-8948. Publisher's Disclaimer: This is a PDF file of an unedited manuscript that has been accepted for publication. As a service to our customers we are providing this early version of the manuscript. The manuscript will undergo copyediting, typesetting, and review of the resulting proof before it is published in its final citable form. Please note that during the production process errors may be discovered which could affect the content, and all legal disclaimers that apply to the journal pertain. FINANCIAL DISCLOSURES The authors report no biomedical financial interests or potential conflicts of interest related to this article. Special thanks to the NIH contracting officers for their support. NIH Public Access Author Manuscript Biol Psychiatry. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 August 1. Published in final edited form as: Biol Psychiatry. 2011 August 1; 70(3): 283–290. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2011.03.015. N IH PA Athor M anscript N IH PA Athor M anscript N IH PA Athor M anscript gender specific patterns of association in OFC/ACC grey matter. These results may guide research on oppositional-defiant and conduct disorders.


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