Satellite Imaging of Global Urbanicity relate to Adolescent Brain Development and Behavior
Gareth J. Barker,
Arun L.W. Bokde,
Erin Burke Quinlan,
Penny A Gowland,
Dimitri Papadopoulos Orfanos,
Juliane H. Fröhner,
Edward D Barker,
the CHIMGEN and IMAGEN Consortia
Posted 25 Sep 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/781674
Posted 25 Sep 2019
Urbanicity, the impact of living in urban areas, is among the greatest environmental challenges for mental health. While urbanicity might be distinct in different sociocultural conditions and geographic locations, there are likely to exist common features shared in different areas of the globe. Understanding these common and specific relations of urbanicity with human brain and behavior will enable to assess the impact of urbanicity on mental disorders, especially in childhood and adolescence, where prevention and early interventions are likely to be most effective. We constructed from satellite-based remote sensing data a factor for urbanicity that was highly correlated with population density ground data. This factor, 'UrbanSat' was utilized in the Chinese CHIMGEN sample (N=831) and the longitudinal European IMAGEN cohort (N=810) to investigate if exposure to urbanicity during childhood and adolescence is associated with differences in brain structure and function in young adults, and if these changes are linked to behavior. Urbanicity was found negatively correlated with medial prefrontal cortex volume and positively correlated with cerebellar vermis volume in young adults from both China and Europe. We found an increased correlation of urbanicity with functional network connectivity within- and between- brain networks in Chinese compared to European participants. Urbanicity was highly correlated with a measure of perceiving a situation from the perspective of others, as well as symptoms of depression in both datasets. These correlations were mediated by the structural and functional brain changes observed. Susceptibility to urbanicity was greatest in two developmental windows during mid-childhood and adolescence. Using innovative technology, we were able to probe the relationship between urban upbringing with brain change and behavior in different sociocultural conditions and geographic locations. Our findings help to identify shared and distinct determinants of adolescent brain development and mental health in different regions of the world, thus contributing to targeted prevention and early-intervention programs for young people in their unique environment. Our approach may be relevant for public health, policy and urban planning globally.
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