Impact of pubertal timing and depression on error-related brain activity in anxious youth

Abstract Anxiety disorders are associated with enhanced error-related negativity (ERN) across development but it remains unclear whether alterations in brain electrophysiology are linked to the timing of puberty. Pubertal timing and alterations of prefrontal and limbic development are implicated in risk for depression, but the interplay of these factors on the ERN?anxiety association has not been assessed. We examined the unique and interactive effects of pubertal timing and depression on the ERN in a sample of youth 10?19 years old with anxiety disorders (n = 30) or no history of psychopathology (n = 30). Earlier pubertal maturation was associated with an enhanced ERN. Among early, but not late maturing youth, higher depressive symptoms were associated with a reduced ERN. The magnitude of neural reactivity to errors is sensitive to anxiety, depression, and development. Early physical maturation and anxiety may heighten neural sensitivity to errors yet predict opposing effects in the context of depression.