Developmental outcomes of early adverse care on amygdala functional connectivity in nonhuman primates

Elyse L. Morin, Brittany R. Howell, Eric Feczko, Eric Earl, Melanie Pincus, Katherine Reding, Zsofia A. Kovacs-Balint, Jerrold S. Meyer, Martin Styner, Damien Fair, Mar M. Sanchez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Despite the strong link between childhood maltreatment and psychopathology, the underlying neurodevelopmental mechanisms are poorly understood and difficult to disentangle from heritable and prenatal factors. This study used a translational macaque model of infant maltreatment in which the adverse experience occurs in the first months of life, during intense maturation of amygdala circuits important for stress and emotional regulation. Thus, we examined the developmental impact of maltreatment on amygdala functional connectivity (FC) longitudinally, from infancy through the juvenile period. Using resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) we performed amygdala-prefrontal cortex (PFC) region-of-interest and exploratory whole-brain amygdala FC analyses. The latter showed (a) developmental increases in amygdala FC with many regions, likely supporting increased processing of socioemotional-relevant stimuli with age; and (b) maltreatment effects on amygdala coupling with arousal and stress brain regions (locus coeruleus, laterodorsal tegmental area) that emerged with age. Maltreated juveniles showed weaker FC than controls, which was negatively associated with infant hair cortisol concentrations. Findings from the region-of-interest analysis also showed weaker amygdala FC with PFC regions in maltreated animals than controls since infancy, whereas bilateral amygdala FC was stronger in maltreated animals. These effects on amygdala FC development may underlie the poor behavioral outcomes associated with this adverse experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1579-1596
Number of pages18
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • amygdala functional connectivity
  • childhood maltreatment
  • early life stress
  • prefrontal cortex
  • rhesus monkey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Developmental outcomes of early adverse care on amygdala functional connectivity in nonhuman primates'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this