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Clinical Science Brown Bag Series

Tuesday, March 19, 2019,

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  • Location: Wilson Hall • 111 21St Ave S • Nashville, TN 37240
  • Room: 316

Francisco Calvache-Meyer

Department of Psychology (Zald Lab)

Vanderbilt University

Higher-order psychopathology associations with fMRI reward processing: a brain-wide, voxel-wise SEM proof of concept study


Recent work suggests the high comorbidity across psychiatric disorders can be modeled using continuous transdiagnostic dimensions, including a general psychopathology factor that reflects non-specific vulnerability to all symptom dimensions, and specific factors for externalizing and internalizing syndromes. These higher-order psychopathology factors offer an advantage over traditional case-controlled approaches by allowing us to identify neural correlates associated with broader vulnerabilities to psychopathology while accounting for the full structure of psychopathology, which is not possible in case-controlled designs. However, the flip side of this promise is that it is difficult to test for associations between latent variables and brain measures in a voxel-wise fashion, especially in larger samples with issues such as non-independence.


In this talk, I will present a proof of concept study in which I sought to identify whether higher-order psychopathology factors were associated with activation in the reward anticipation and reward attainment stages of the Monetary Incentive Delay task using a novel voxel-wise SEM approach. I will briefly introduce and discuss my voxel-wise SEM approach, which leveraged tools such as Neuropointillist and Mplus to test for associations between activation in voxels across the brain and higher-order psychopathology, while addressing non-independence issues introduced by twinness in our sample (Tennessee Twin Study Wave 2, N = 326). I will then discuss our findings and possible future directions.


This talk is a follow-up to my talk from last year; it is the same dataset, although being analyzed using a different approach and more in depth. This talk will also serve as an open defense for my Master’s thesis.