Amygdala habituation and uncinate fasciculus connectivity in adolescence: A multi-modal approach

Despite prior extensive investigations of the interactions between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, few studies have simultaneously considered activation and structural connectivity in this circuit, particularly as it pertains to adolescent socioemotional development. The current multi-modal study delineated the correspondence between uncinate fasciculus (UF) connectivity and amygdala habituation in a large adolescent sample that was drawn from a population-based sample. We then examined the influence of demographic variables (age, gender, and pubertal status) on the relation between UF connectivity and amygdala habituation. 106 participants (15ñ17 years) completed DTI and an fMRI emotional face processing task. Left UF fractional anisotropy was associated with left amygdala habituation to fearful faces, suggesting that increased structural connectivity of the UF may facilitate amygdala regulation. Pubertal status moderated this structure-function relation, such that the association was stronger in those who were less mature. Therefore, UF connectivity may be particularly important for emotion regulation during early puberty. This study is the first to link structural and functional limbic circuitry in a large adolescent sample with substantial representation of ethnic minority participants, providing a more comprehensive understanding of socioemotional development in an understudied population. “