McNair Scholar 2018 Abigayle Z. McClendon

Abigayle Z. McClendon is a senior at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, majoring in psychology with minors in neuroscience and leadership. Her current research interests include neuroimaging and emotion processing. Ms. McClendon plans on getting her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

Abigayle Z. McClendon headshot
I aspire to contribute to the knowledge of psychopathology and treatment of mental disorders, particularly anxiety or depression. I also want to help change the stigma behind mental illness through community outreach.

Research project

Reduced Hippocampal Volume in Comorbid Alcohol Use Disorders and Major Depression

Abstract: Previous research has found that people with both Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) have been found to have smaller hippocampal volume compared to people without. A majority of studies looking at MDD controlled for AUD while a majority of studies looking at AUD did not control for MDD. We examined whether comorbidity of AUD and MDD plays a role in the hippocampal volume decrease that has been associated with both disorders in a sample of N = 411 adult twins classified into one of four groups: (1) MDD and no AUD (n = 97), (2) AUD and no MDD (n = 70), (3) MDD/AUD (n = 61), and (4) No MDD or AUD (n = 195). The four groups did not have any significant differences in hippocampal volume when compared to each other. The nonsignificant results might reflect a lack of current problematic alcohol use and depressive symptomology in the sample, a possibility we will explore in future research.

Faculty mentor

Dr. William G. Iacono has been Co-director of the Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research (MCTFR) for the last 25 years. He earned his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Minnesota. Most of his research, family, adoptive, and twin study designs are used to investigate the development and etiology of common mental disorders, including substance use, antisocial, and major depressive disorders. In addition to being Co-director of MCTFR he is a Regents Professor and Distinguished McKnight University Professor.