Honors Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



Pedroza Sotelo, K. 2024. Examining Anxiety in Adolescents: Maternal Transmission, Stress Management, and Neuroanatomy Analysis. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Anxiety symptoms and diagnosis for many begin in adolescence, however, risk factors from early development can also manifest at this stage. The theory of familial transmission of psychopathological disorders suggests that familial history is a risk factor for the development of these disorders. Using data of 143 participants collected from the Boston Adolescent Neuroimaging of Depression and Anxiety (BANDA) project, I sought to explore this theory through the lens of maternal transmission of anxiety. I hypothesized that those with a maternal history of anxiety would exhibit significant differences in stress management, behavioral features, and activations of amygdalae and hippocampi during fear processing compared to those without it—regardless of diagnosis (anxious v. control). Anxious participants with a maternal history of anxiety exhibited higher levels of externalizing behaviors, and in control groups some marginal differences were observed in trait anxiety. I failed to observe other significant differences in stress management and behavioral assessments between those with maternal risk of anxiety and those without it. Similarly, I failed to observe significant differences in activation of amygdalae and hippocampi in the context of maternal risk. Overall, no significant results were found between adolescents with a maternal history of anxiety and those without it when comparing groups of similar diagnostic status. Additional research is needed to better understand the neurological effects of maternal transmission, which is important to the understanding of neurocognitive risk factors for psychological disorders.