Structural Abnormalities in Brain Magnetic Resonance Images of Depressed Children

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Brain magnetic resonance images (MRIs) of 65 children and adolescents who were hospitalized with depressive disorders (DD) were compared with the brain MRIs of 18 hospitalized psychiatric controls (PC) without a depressive disorder.


Volumetric analyses were used to measure frontal lobe volumes (FLV), lateral ventricular volumes (W), and total cerebral volumes (CV) for all subjects. To correct for differences in absolute cerebral volume associated with different body and head size, the ratios of FLV/CV and VV/CV were used to compare differences between the two groups. A multivariate analysis was used to control for the effects of several independent variables (age, sex, diagnosis).


Significant differences were seen in the FLV/CV ratio and the W/CV ratio when the results were compared between the two groups (DD versus PC). The DD group had a significantiy smaller FLV/CV ratio (t= 2.148, df= 79, p= .035) and a significantly larger W/CV ratio (t= −2.093, df = 79, p = .040).


The findings are consistent with previous reports in depressed adults and may implicate the frontal lobes in the pathogenesis of early-onset depressive disorders. J. Am. Acad. Child Adotesc. Psychiatry, 1996, 35(3):307–31

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