Rajpreet Chahal, Ph.D.

Fellow in Depression

Project Details

Mentor

Ian H. Gotlib, Ph.D.


Institution

Stanford University


Project

Executive Control: Characterizing Neurodevelopmental Subgroups to Predict Resilience to Depression


Project Title

Executive Control: Characterizing Neurodevelopmental Subgroups to Predict Resilience to Depression

Project Summary

Early life stress (ELS; e.g., experiences of abuse and neglect) is a well-recognized risk factor for adolescent depression; importantly, however, many youth who have experienced adversity remain relatively healthy and can be characterized as resilient. While personality and environmental protective factors have been identified in previous research, we know little about neurodevelopmental and cognitive processes that may underlie resilience. This study will leverage data from an ongoing longitudinal study of adolescents who experienced varying levels of ELS to measure individual differences in the maturation of the executive control network (ECN), a set of frontoparietal brain regions supporting executive functioning, as they relate to resilience and susceptibility to depression. Efficient executive functioning, including inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility, and working memory, is required to successfully navigate stressful situations and adapt to novel challenges. We will add a remote visit to the existing study to measure behavioral performance on a battery of neurocognitive tests assessing specific facets of executive functioning; in addition, we will assess self-reported executive functioning and resilience-related protective factors to identify personal and environmental characteristics that buffer the relation between ELS and depression. The goal of this work is to investigate the interplay among ECN neurodevelopment, cognitive functioning, and subjective perceptions of resilience in order to characterize the dynamic emergence of resilience following early adverse experiences. Findings from this research will contribute to a multi-system perspective of protective factors that could be promoted early in development to slow or halt the progression of depression in youth exposed to ELS.

Read Researcher's Biography