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Severe temper outbursts (STO) in children are associated with impaired school and family functioning and may contribute to negative outcomes. These outbursts can be conceptualized as excessive frustration responses reflecting reduced emotion regulation capacity. The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) has been implicated in negative affect as well as emotional control, and exhibits disrupted function in children with elevated irritability and outbursts. This study examined the intrinsic functional connectivity (iFC) of a region of the ACC, the anterior midcingulate cortex (aMCC), in 5- to 9-year-old children with STO (n = 20), comparing them to children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) without outbursts (ADHD; n = 18). Additional analyses compared results to a sample of healthy children (HC; n = 18) and examined specific associations with behavioral and emotional dysregulation. Compared to the ADHD group, STO children exhibited reduced iFC between the aMCC and surrounding regions of the ACC, and increased iFC between the aMCC and precuneus. These differences were also seen between the STO and HC groups; ADHD and HC groups did not differ. Specificity analyses found associations between aMCC-ACC connectivity and hyperactivity, and between aMCC-precuneus iFC and emotion dysregulation. Disruption in aMCC networks may underlie the behavioral and emotional dysregulation characteristic of children with STO.


Amy Krain Roy, Randi Bennett, Jonathan Posner, Leslie Hulvershorn, F Xavier Castellanos, Rachel G Klein. Altered intrinsic functional connectivity of the cingulate cortex in children with severe temper outbursts. Development and psychopathology. 2018 May;30(2):571-579

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PMID: 28803557

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