Early developmental emergence of human amygdala-prefrontal connectivity after maternal deprivation Academic Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Amygdala
  • Maternal Deprivation
  • Nerve Net
  • Prefrontal Cortex


  • Under typical conditions, medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) connections with the amygdala are immature during childhood and become adult-like during adolescence. Rodent models show that maternal deprivation accelerates this development, prompting examination of human amygdala-mPFC phenotypes following maternal deprivation. Previously institutionalized youths, who experienced early maternal deprivation, exhibited atypical amygdala-mPFC connectivity. Specifically, unlike the immature connectivity (positive amygdala-mPFC coupling) of comparison children, children with a history of early adversity evidenced mature connectivity (negative amygdala-mPFC coupling) and thus, resembled the adolescent phenotype. This connectivity pattern was mediated by the hormone cortisol, suggesting that stress-induced modifications of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis shape amygdala-mPFC circuitry. Despite being age-atypical, negative amygdala-mPFC coupling conferred some degree of reduced anxiety, although anxiety was still significantly higher in the previously institutionalized group. These findings suggest that accelerated amygdala-mPFC development is an ontogenetic adaptation in response to early adversity.

publication date

  • September 24, 2013



  • Academic Article



  • eng

PubMed Central ID

  • PMC3785723

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1073/pnas.1307893110

PubMed ID

  • 24019460

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 15638

end page

  • 43


  • 110


  • 39