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Biol Psychol. 2008 Oct;79(2):216-22. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2008.05.004. Epub 2008 May 29.

Relationship between trait anxiety, prefrontal cortex, and attention bias to angry faces in children and adolescents.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA. ehtelzer@ucla.edu

Abstract

Using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with a visual-probe task that assesses attention to threat, we investigated the cognitive and neurophysiological correlates of trait anxiety in youth. During fMRI acquisition, 16 healthy children and adolescents viewed angry-neutral face pairs and responded to a probe that was on the same (angry-congruent) or opposite (angry-incongruent) side as the angry face. Attention bias scores were calculated by subtracting participants' mean reaction time for angry-congruent trials from angry-incongruent trials. Trait anxiety was positively associated with attention bias towards angry faces. Neurophysiologically, trait anxiety was positively associated with right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) activation on a contrast of trials that reflect the attention bias for angry faces (i.e. angry-incongruent versus angry-congruent trials). Trait anxiety was also positively associated with right ventrolateral PFC activation on trials with face stimuli (vesus baseline), irrespective of their emotional content.

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