Exploring valence bias as a metric for frontoamygdalar connectivity and depressive symptoms in childhood

Nathan M. Petro, Nim Tottenham, Maital Neta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Negativity bias is a core feature of depression that is associated with dysfunctional frontoamygdalar connectivity; this pathway is associated with emotion regulation and sensitive to neurobiological change during puberty. We used a valence bias task (ratings of emotional ambiguity) as a potential early indicator of depression risk and differences in frontoamygdalar connectivity. Previous work using this task demonstrated that children normatively have a negative bias that attenuates with maturation. Here, we test the hypothesis that persistence of this negativity bias as maturation ensues may reveal differences in emotion regulation development, and may be associated with increased risk for depression. In children aged 6–13 years, we tested the moderating role of puberty on relationships between valence bias, depressive symptoms, and frontoamygdalar connectivity. A negative bias was associated with increased depressive symptoms for those at more advanced pubertal stages (within this sample) and less regulatory frontoamygdalar connectivity, whereas a more positive bias was associated with more regulatory connectivity patterns. These data suggest that with maturation, individual differences in positivity biases and associated emotion regulation circuitry confer a differential risk for depression. Longitudinal work is necessary to determine the directionality of these effects and explore the influence of early life events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1013-1028
Number of pages16
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • amygdala
  • emotion
  • medial prefrontal cortex
  • negativity bias
  • puberty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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