Role of self-focussed reappraisal of negative emotion in emergence of emotional symptoms in adolescent girls

Gin S. Malhi, Pritha Das, Tim Outhred, Richard A. Bryant, Vince Calhoun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background Adolescent subthreshold emotional symptoms arise from impaired self-referential information-processing and approach-avoidance behaviour network integration, which compromises goal evaluation and pursuit strategies.Aims We investigated whether impairment of negative emotion (goal) reappraisal strategies (self-focussing and self-distancing) generates emotional symptoms (emotional disorders precursors).Method Using functional magnetic resonance imaging and a triple-network model (default mode, executive control and salience), functional connectivity differences within and between networks, and their modulation by task and relationships with emotional symptoms were determined in healthy adolescent girls (N = 202) grouped by presence or absence of emotional symptoms.Results The groups differed in spectral power distribution and in dorsal default mode network and right executive control network modulation when self-focussing and self-distancing, respectively. Girls without emotional symptoms had greater spectral power and less network modulation. Greater spectral power was associated with reduced emotional symptoms and less dorsal default mode network modulation when self-focussing.Conclusions The early phases of anxiety and depressive disorders in adolescence are marked by emotional symptoms that usually emerge in the context of negative life events. To contend with the negative effect of such events, a typical reappraisal strategy is to distance oneself and switch the focus of one's thinking. This brain-imaging study in adolescent girls prone to the development of emotional disorders has found functional changes in key neural networks that are involved in reappraisal and shown that this process is impaired. This is important because it provides an early indication of these common disorders and a potential target for psychological interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-389
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Adolescent
  • adolescence
  • default mode network
  • emotion regulation
  • executive control network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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