Study protocol: Transitions in Adolescent Girls (TAG)


Despite recent studies linking pubertal processes to braindevelopment, as well as research demonstrating the importance of both pubertaland neurodevelopmental processes for adolescent mental health, there is limitedknowledge of the full pathways and mechanisms behind the emergence ofmental illnesses such as depression and anxiety disorders in adolescence. TheTransitions in Adolescent Girls (TAG) study aims to understand the complexrelationships between pubertal development, brain structure and connectivity,the behavioral and neural correlates of social and self-perception processes, andadolescent mental health in girls. The TAG study includes 174 girls aged 10.0 to 13.0 years, recruitedfrom the local community in Lane County, Oregon, USA. The girls, along with aparent/guardian, will complete three waves of assessment over the course ofthree years; the second and third wave are currently underway. Each waveincludes collection of four saliva samples (one per week) and one hair sample forthe assessment of hormone levels and immune factors; an MRI session includingstructural, difusion, resting-state functional and task-based functional scans; theKiddie Schedule for Afective Disorders and Schizophrenia (K-SADS), a diagnosticinterview on current and lifetime mental health; production of a short self-narrative video; and measurement of height, weight, and waist circumference.The functional MRI tasks include a self-evaluation paradigm and a self-disclosureparadigm. In addition, adolescents and their parents/guardians complete anumber of surveys to report on the adolescent’s pubertal development, mentalhealth, social environment and life events; adolescents also report on variousindices of self-perception and social-emotional functioning. The knowledge gained from this study will include developmentaltrajectories of pubertal, neurological, and social processes and their roles asmechanisms in predicting emergence of mental illness in adolescent girls. Thisknowledge will help identify modifable, developmentally specifc risk factors astargets for early intervention and prevention eforts.

Frontiers Psychiatry

Barendse, M.E.A., Vijayakumar, N., Byrne, M.L., Flannery, J.E., Cheng, T.W., Flournoy, J.C., Nelson, B.W., Cosme, D., Mobasser, A., Chavez, S.J., Hval, L., Brady, B., Nadel, H., Helzer, A., Shirtclif, E.A., Allen, N.B., & Pfeifer, J.H. (2020) Study protocol: Transitions in AdolescentGirls (TAG). Frontiers Psychiatry, 10, 1018.