2019, Vol. 3, No. 1, Pages 107-123
© 2018 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license
Global connectivity of the fronto-parietal cognitive control network is related to depression symptoms in the general population
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We all vary in our mental health, even among people not meeting diagnostic criteria for mental illness. Understanding this individual variability may reveal factors driving the risk for mental illness, as well as factors driving subclinical problems that still adversely affect quality of life. To better understand the large-scale brain network mechanisms underlying this variability, we examined the relationship between mental health symptoms and resting-state functional connectivity patterns in cognitive control systems. One such system is the fronto-parietal cognitive control network (FPN). Changes in FPN connectivity may impact mental health by disrupting the ability to regulate symptoms in a goal-directed manner. Here we test the hypothesis that FPN dysconnectivity relates to mental health symptoms even among individuals who do not meet formal diagnostic criteria but may exhibit meaningful symptom variation. We found that depression symptoms severity negatively correlated with between-network global connectivity (BGC) of the FPN. This suggests that decreased connectivity between the FPN and the rest of the brain is related to increased depression symptoms in the general population. These findings complement previous clinical studies to support the hypothesis that global FPN connectivity contributes to the regulation of mental health symptoms across both health and disease.Understanding how large-scale network interactions in the brain contribute to (or serve a protective role against) mental health symptoms is an important step toward developing more effective mental health treatments. Here we test the hypothesis that cognitive control networks play an important role in mental health by being highly connected to other brain networks and able to serve as a feedback mechanism capable of regulating symptoms in a goal-directed manner. We found that the more well connected the fronto-parietal cognitive control network was to other networks in the brain the less depression symptoms were reported by participants. These results contribute to our understanding of how brain network interactions are related to mental health symptoms, even in individuals who have not been diagnosed with a disorder.