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Michael Santo Gaffrey

Assistant Research Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
Psychology & Neuroscience
316A Soc Psych Bldg, Box 90086, Durham, NC 27708
316A Reuben-Cooke Building, Box 90086, Durham, NC 27705

Selected Publications


Microstate Analysis of Continuous Infant EEG: Tutorial and Reliability.

Journal Article Brain topography · March 2024 Microstate analysis of resting-state EEG is a unique data-driven method for identifying patterns of scalp potential topographies, or microstates, that reflect stable but transient periods of synchronized neural activity evolving dynamically over time. Duri ... Full text Cite

Exploring the Association Between EEG Microstates During Resting-State and Error-Related Activity in Young Children.

Journal Article Brain topography · December 2023 The error-related negativity (ERN) is a negative deflection in the electroencephalography (EEG) waveform at frontal-central scalp sites that occurs after error commission. The relationship between the ERN and broader patterns of brain activity measured acr ... Full text Cite

Reduced cortical surface area globally and in reward-related cortex is associated with elevated depressive symptoms in preschoolers.

Journal Article Journal of affective disorders · December 2022 BackgroundElevated depressive symptoms in early childhood strongly predict depression onset in youth. Nevertheless, little is known about the neural correlates of these symptoms, information that is key for understanding the early development of d ... Full text Cite

Spatiotemporal dynamics of EEG microstates in four- to eight-year-old children: Age- and sex-related effects.

Journal Article Developmental cognitive neuroscience · July 2022 The ultrafast spatiotemporal dynamics of large-scale neural networks can be examined using resting-state electroencephalography (EEG) microstates, representing transient periods of synchronized neural activity that evolve dynamically over time. In adults, ... Full text Open Access Cite

Editorial: Shedding Light on the Early Neurobiological Roots of Infant Temperament and Risk for Anxiety.

Journal Article Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry · September 2021 Temperament refers to early-appearing variations in emotional reactivity and regulation that show moderate stability across time and settings. The association of some features of early temperament with later emerging childhood psychiatric disorders has bee ... Full text Cite

Stress-induced cortisol response is associated with right amygdala volume in early childhood.

Journal Article Neurobiology of stress · May 2021 Rodent research suggests that dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the resulting cortisol stress response can alter the structure of the hippocampus and amygdala. Because early-life changes in brain structure can produce later ... Full text Open Access Cite

Amygdala Functional Connectivity Is Associated With Emotion Regulation and Amygdala Reactivity in 4- to 6-Year-Olds.

Journal Article Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry · January 2021 ObjectiveEmotion dysregulation has been suggested to be a potent risk factor for multiple psychiatric conditions. Altered amygdala-prefrontal cortex (PFC) connectivity has been consistently linked to emotion dysregulation. Recent data indicate tha ... Full text Cite

Cortical thinning in preschoolers with maladaptive guilt.

Journal Article Psychiatry research. Neuroimaging · November 2020 Maladaptive guilt is a central symptom of preschool-onset depression associated with severe psychopathology in adolescence and adulthood. Although studies have found that maladaptive guilt is associated with structural alterations in the anterior insula (A ... Full text Cite

Social origins of self-regulated attention during infancy and their disruption in autism spectrum disorder: Implications for early intervention.

Journal Article Development and psychopathology · October 2020 To understand the complex relationships between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other frequently comorbid conditions, a growing number of studies have investigated the emergence of ASD during infancy. This research has suggested that symptoms of ASD and ... Full text Cite

The Lifespan Human Connectome Project in Development: A large-scale study of brain connectivity development in 5-21 year olds.

Journal Article NeuroImage · December 2018 Recent technological and analytical progress in brain imaging has enabled the examination of brain organization and connectivity at unprecedented levels of detail. The Human Connectome Project in Development (HCP-D) is exploiting these tools to chart devel ... Full text Cite

Continuity and stability of preschool depression from childhood through adolescence and following the onset of puberty.

Journal Article Comprehensive psychiatry · October 2018 BackgroundA growing body of research now supports the validity, clinical significance, and long-term negative impact of depression occurring during the preschool period. However, the prospective continuity of depressive symptoms and risk for major ... Full text Cite

Amygdala Reward Reactivity Mediates the Association Between Preschool Stress Response and Depression Severity.

Journal Article Biological psychiatry · January 2018 BackgroundResearch in adolescents and adults has suggested that altered neural processing of reward following early life adversity is a highly promising depressive intermediate phenotype. However, very little is known about how stress response, ne ... Full text Cite

Amygdala reactivity to sad faces in preschool children: An early neural marker of persistent negative affect.

Journal Article Developmental cognitive neuroscience · February 2016 BackgroundElevated negative affect is a highly salient risk factor for later internalizing disorders. Very little is known about the early neurobiological correlates of negative affect and whether they associate with developmental changes in negat ... Full text Cite

Stimulus-Driven Attention, Threat Bias, and Sad Bias in Youth with a History of an Anxiety Disorder or Depression.

Journal Article Journal of abnormal child psychology · February 2016 Attention biases towards threatening and sad stimuli are associated with pediatric anxiety and depression, respectively. The basic cognitive mechanisms associated with attention biases in youth, however, remain unclear. Here, we tested the hypothesis that ... Full text Cite

Amygdala functional connectivity, HPA axis genetic variation, and life stress in children and relations to anxiety and emotion regulation.

Journal Article Journal of abnormal psychology · November 2015 Internalizing pathology is related to alterations in amygdala resting state functional connectivity, potentially implicating altered emotional reactivity and/or emotion regulation in the etiological pathway. Importantly, there is accumulating evidence that ... Full text Cite

HPA axis genetic variation, pubertal status, and sex interact to predict amygdala and hippocampus responses to negative emotional faces in school-age children.

Journal Article NeuroImage · April 2015 Accumulating evidence suggests a role for stress exposure, particularly during early life, and for variation in genes involved in stress response pathways in neural responsivity to emotional stimuli. Understanding how individual differences in these factor ... Full text Cite

Trajectories of preschool disorders to full DSM depression at school age and early adolescence: continuity of preschool depression.

Journal Article The American journal of psychiatry · July 2014 ObjectivePreschool-onset depression, a developmentally adapted form of depression arising between ages 3 and 6, has demonstrated numerous validated features, including characteristic alterations in stress reactivity and brain function. This syndro ... Full text Cite

Microstate Analysis of Continuous Infant EEG: Tutorial and Reliability.

Journal Article Brain topography · March 2024 Microstate analysis of resting-state EEG is a unique data-driven method for identifying patterns of scalp potential topographies, or microstates, that reflect stable but transient periods of synchronized neural activity evolving dynamically over time. Duri ... Full text Cite

Exploring the Association Between EEG Microstates During Resting-State and Error-Related Activity in Young Children.

Journal Article Brain topography · December 2023 The error-related negativity (ERN) is a negative deflection in the electroencephalography (EEG) waveform at frontal-central scalp sites that occurs after error commission. The relationship between the ERN and broader patterns of brain activity measured acr ... Full text Cite

Reduced cortical surface area globally and in reward-related cortex is associated with elevated depressive symptoms in preschoolers.

Journal Article Journal of affective disorders · December 2022 BackgroundElevated depressive symptoms in early childhood strongly predict depression onset in youth. Nevertheless, little is known about the neural correlates of these symptoms, information that is key for understanding the early development of d ... Full text Cite

Spatiotemporal dynamics of EEG microstates in four- to eight-year-old children: Age- and sex-related effects.

Journal Article Developmental cognitive neuroscience · July 2022 The ultrafast spatiotemporal dynamics of large-scale neural networks can be examined using resting-state electroencephalography (EEG) microstates, representing transient periods of synchronized neural activity that evolve dynamically over time. In adults, ... Full text Open Access Cite

Editorial: Shedding Light on the Early Neurobiological Roots of Infant Temperament and Risk for Anxiety.

Journal Article Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry · September 2021 Temperament refers to early-appearing variations in emotional reactivity and regulation that show moderate stability across time and settings. The association of some features of early temperament with later emerging childhood psychiatric disorders has bee ... Full text Cite

Stress-induced cortisol response is associated with right amygdala volume in early childhood.

Journal Article Neurobiology of stress · May 2021 Rodent research suggests that dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the resulting cortisol stress response can alter the structure of the hippocampus and amygdala. Because early-life changes in brain structure can produce later ... Full text Open Access Cite

Amygdala Functional Connectivity Is Associated With Emotion Regulation and Amygdala Reactivity in 4- to 6-Year-Olds.

Journal Article Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry · January 2021 ObjectiveEmotion dysregulation has been suggested to be a potent risk factor for multiple psychiatric conditions. Altered amygdala-prefrontal cortex (PFC) connectivity has been consistently linked to emotion dysregulation. Recent data indicate tha ... Full text Cite

Cortical thinning in preschoolers with maladaptive guilt.

Journal Article Psychiatry research. Neuroimaging · November 2020 Maladaptive guilt is a central symptom of preschool-onset depression associated with severe psychopathology in adolescence and adulthood. Although studies have found that maladaptive guilt is associated with structural alterations in the anterior insula (A ... Full text Cite

Social origins of self-regulated attention during infancy and their disruption in autism spectrum disorder: Implications for early intervention.

Journal Article Development and psychopathology · October 2020 To understand the complex relationships between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other frequently comorbid conditions, a growing number of studies have investigated the emergence of ASD during infancy. This research has suggested that symptoms of ASD and ... Full text Cite

The Lifespan Human Connectome Project in Development: A large-scale study of brain connectivity development in 5-21 year olds.

Journal Article NeuroImage · December 2018 Recent technological and analytical progress in brain imaging has enabled the examination of brain organization and connectivity at unprecedented levels of detail. The Human Connectome Project in Development (HCP-D) is exploiting these tools to chart devel ... Full text Cite

Continuity and stability of preschool depression from childhood through adolescence and following the onset of puberty.

Journal Article Comprehensive psychiatry · October 2018 BackgroundA growing body of research now supports the validity, clinical significance, and long-term negative impact of depression occurring during the preschool period. However, the prospective continuity of depressive symptoms and risk for major ... Full text Cite

Amygdala Reward Reactivity Mediates the Association Between Preschool Stress Response and Depression Severity.

Journal Article Biological psychiatry · January 2018 BackgroundResearch in adolescents and adults has suggested that altered neural processing of reward following early life adversity is a highly promising depressive intermediate phenotype. However, very little is known about how stress response, ne ... Full text Cite

Amygdala reactivity to sad faces in preschool children: An early neural marker of persistent negative affect.

Journal Article Developmental cognitive neuroscience · February 2016 BackgroundElevated negative affect is a highly salient risk factor for later internalizing disorders. Very little is known about the early neurobiological correlates of negative affect and whether they associate with developmental changes in negat ... Full text Cite

Stimulus-Driven Attention, Threat Bias, and Sad Bias in Youth with a History of an Anxiety Disorder or Depression.

Journal Article Journal of abnormal child psychology · February 2016 Attention biases towards threatening and sad stimuli are associated with pediatric anxiety and depression, respectively. The basic cognitive mechanisms associated with attention biases in youth, however, remain unclear. Here, we tested the hypothesis that ... Full text Cite

Amygdala functional connectivity, HPA axis genetic variation, and life stress in children and relations to anxiety and emotion regulation.

Journal Article Journal of abnormal psychology · November 2015 Internalizing pathology is related to alterations in amygdala resting state functional connectivity, potentially implicating altered emotional reactivity and/or emotion regulation in the etiological pathway. Importantly, there is accumulating evidence that ... Full text Cite

HPA axis genetic variation, pubertal status, and sex interact to predict amygdala and hippocampus responses to negative emotional faces in school-age children.

Journal Article NeuroImage · April 2015 Accumulating evidence suggests a role for stress exposure, particularly during early life, and for variation in genes involved in stress response pathways in neural responsivity to emotional stimuli. Understanding how individual differences in these factor ... Full text Cite

Trajectories of preschool disorders to full DSM depression at school age and early adolescence: continuity of preschool depression.

Journal Article The American journal of psychiatry · July 2014 ObjectivePreschool-onset depression, a developmentally adapted form of depression arising between ages 3 and 6, has demonstrated numerous validated features, including characteristic alterations in stress reactivity and brain function. This syndro ... Full text Cite

Serotonin transporter-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) genotype and stressful life events interact to predict preschool-onset depression: a replication and developmental extension.

Journal Article Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines · May 2014 BackgroundScientific enthusiasm about gene × environment interactions, spurred by the 5-HTTLPR (serotonin transporter-linked polymorphic region) × SLEs (stressful life events) interaction predicting depression, have recently been tempered by sober ... Full text Cite

Stress-system genes and life stress predict cortisol levels and amygdala and hippocampal volumes in children.

Journal Article Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology · April 2014 Depression has been linked to increased cortisol reactivity and differences in limbic brain volumes, yet the mechanisms underlying these alterations are unclear. One main hypothesis is that stress causes these effects. This is supported by animal studies s ... Full text Cite

Functional brain activation to emotional and nonemotional faces in healthy children: evidence for developmentally undifferentiated amygdala function during the school-age period.

Journal Article Cognitive, affective & behavioral neuroscience · December 2013 The amygdala is a key region in emotion processing. In particular, fMRI studies have demonstrated that the amygdala is active during the viewing of emotional faces. Previous research has consistently found greater amygdala responses to fearful than to neut ... Full text Cite

Disrupted amygdala reactivity in depressed 4- to 6-year-old children.

Journal Article Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry · July 2013 ObjectiveDisrupted amygdala activity in depressed adolescents and adults while viewing facial expressions of emotion has been reported. However, few data are available to inform the developmental nature of this phenomenon, an issue that studies of ... Full text Cite

Towards the study of functional brain development in depression: an Interactive Specialization approach.

Journal Article Neurobiology of disease · April 2013 Depression is a significant and impairing mood disorder with onset possible as early as age 3 and into adulthood. Given this varying pattern of age of onset, identifying the relationship between brain development and depression across the lifespan has prov ... Full text Cite

Structural-functional correlations between hippocampal volume and cortico-limbic emotional responses in depressed children.

Journal Article Cognitive, affective & behavioral neuroscience · March 2013 Although hippocampal atrophy and altered functional brain responses to emotional stimuli have been found in major depressive disorder (MDD), the relationship between the two is not yet well understood. The present study focused on children with and without ... Full text Cite

Functional brain activation to emotionally valenced faces in school-aged children with a history of preschool-onset major depression.

Journal Article Biological psychiatry · December 2012 BackgroundRecent research has demonstrated that clinical depression can emerge as early as the preschool period. Here, we examine brain function in children with a history of preschool-onset depression (PO-MDD) in comparison with healthy children. ... Full text Cite

Relational aggression in children with preschool-onset psychiatric disorders.

Journal Article Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry · September 2012 ObjectiveThe role of preschool-onset (PO) psychiatric disorders as correlates and/or risk factors for relational aggression during kindergarten or first grade was tested in a sample of 146 preschool-age children (age 3 to 5.11 years).Method Full text Cite

Atypical lexicosemantic function of extrastriate cortex in autism spectrum disorder: evidence from functional and effective connectivity.

Journal Article NeuroImage · September 2012 Previous studies have suggested atypically enhanced activity of visual cortex during language processing in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, it remains unclear whether visual cortical participation reflects isolated processing within posterior regi ... Full text Cite

Default mode network connectivity in children with a history of preschool onset depression.

Journal Article Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines · September 2012 BackgroundAtypical Default Mode Network (DMN) functional connectivity has been previously reported in depressed adults. However, there is relatively little data informing the developmental nature of this phenomenon. The current case-control study ... Full text Cite

Maternal support in early childhood predicts larger hippocampal volumes at school age.

Journal Article Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America · February 2012 Early maternal support has been shown to promote specific gene expression, neurogenesis, adaptive stress responses, and larger hippocampal volumes in developing animals. In humans, a relationship between psychosocial factors in early childhood and later am ... Full text Cite

Social Cognition in Williams Syndrome: Relations between Performance on the Social Attribution Task and Cognitive and Behavioral Characteristics.

Journal Article Frontiers in psychology · January 2012 Williams syndrome (WS) is a developmental disorder of genetic origin, with characteristic cognitive and personality profiles. Studies of WS point to an outgoing and gregarious personality style, often contrasted with autism spectrum disorders; however, rec ... Full text Cite

Functional connectivity of the amygdala in early-childhood-onset depression.

Journal Article Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry · October 2011 ObjectiveAdult major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with reduced cortico-limbic functional connectivity thought to indicate decreased top-down control of emotion. However, it is unclear whether such connectivity alterations are also prese ... Full text Cite

Effects of Stimulants and SSRIs on Brain Function in Children: Emerging Clues from fMRI Studies.

Journal Article Child & adolescent psychopharmacology news · October 2011 Full text Cite

The 2-week duration criterion and severity and course of early childhood depression: implications for nosology.

Journal Article Journal of affective disorders · October 2011 BackgroundAlthough validity for DSM-IV MDD symptom criteria in preschoolers has been demonstrated, whether the 2-week duration criterion is an appropriate threshold of clinical significance at this age remains unclear. The current study aimed to b ... Full text Cite

Association between depression severity and amygdala reactivity during sad face viewing in depressed preschoolers: an fMRI study.

Journal Article Journal of affective disorders · March 2011 BackgroundPrevious research has indicated that symptom severity and amygdala reactivity during the viewing of facial expressions of emotion are related in depression. However, it remains unclear how early in development this can be detected.Me ... Full text Cite

Subgenual cingulate connectivity in children with a history of preschool-depression.

Journal Article Neuroreport · December 2010 The subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sgACC) presents altered functional connections with other regions of the brain in individuals with depression. However, the developmental nature of this phenomenon remains largely unexplored. Functional connections ... Full text Cite

Atypical network connectivity for imitation in autism spectrum disorder.

Journal Article Neuropsychologia · August 2010 Imitation has been considered as one of the precursors for sociocommunicative development. Impairments of imitation in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) could be indicative of dysfunctional underlying neural processes. Neuroimaging studies have found reduced ... Full text Cite

Expecting the worst: observations of reactivity to sound in young children with Williams syndrome.

Journal Article Research in developmental disabilities · November 2008 The study examined behavioral reactions to sound, including startle eye blinks, in young children with Williams syndrome (WS) using video-based observational techniques. Participants were 21 children with WS and 20 children with other developmental disabil ... Full text Cite

Atypical [corrected] participation of visual cortex during word processing in autism: an fMRI study of semantic decision.

Journal Article Neuropsychologia · April 2007 Language delay and impairment are salient features of autism. More specifically, there is evidence of atypical semantic organization in autism, but the functional brain correlates are not well understood. The current study used functional MRI to examine ac ... Full text Cite

Activity and functional connectivity of inferior frontal cortex associated with response conflict.

Journal Article Brain research. Cognitive brain research · July 2005 The traditional Stroop test of cognitive interference requires overt speech responses. One alternative, the counting Stroop, generates cognitive interference similar to the traditional Stroop test but allows button press responses. Previous counting Stroop ... Full text Cite