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Transl Psychiatry. 2013 Oct 8;3:e312. doi: 10.1038/tp.2013.85.

Altered fusiform connectivity during processing of fearful faces in social anxiety disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.


Social anxiety disorder (SAD) has been associated with hyper-reactivity in limbic brain regions like the amygdala, both during symptom provocation and emotional face processing tasks. In this functional magnetic resonance imaging study we sought to examine brain regions implicated in emotional face processing, and the connectivity between them, in patients with SAD (n=14) compared with healthy controls (n=12). We furthermore aimed to relate brain reactivity and connectivity to self-reported social anxiety symptom severity. SAD patients exhibited hyper-reactivity in the bilateral fusiform gyrus in response to fearful faces, as well as greater connectivity between the fusiform gyrus and amygdala, and decreased connectivity between the fusiform gyrus and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Within the SAD group, social anxiety severity correlated positively with amygdala reactivity to emotional faces, amygdala-fusiform connectivity and connectivity between the amygdala and superior temporal sulcus (STS). These findings point to a pivotal role for the fusiform gyrus in SAD neuropathology, and further suggest that altered amygdala-fusiform and amygdala-STS connectivity could underlie previous findings of aberrant socio-emotional information processing in this anxiety disorder.

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