Display Settings:

Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008 May;65(5):568-76. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.65.5.568.

Amygdala and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activation to masked angry faces in children and adolescents with generalized anxiety disorder.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, 530 Church St, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1043, USA. csmonk@umich.edu

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Vigilance for threat is a key feature of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The amygdala and the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex constitute a neural circuit that is responsible for detection of threats. Disturbed interactions between these structures may underlie pediatric anxiety. To date, no study has selectively examined responses to briefly presented threats in GAD or in pediatric anxiety.

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate amygdala and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activation during processing of briefly presented threats in pediatric GAD.

DESIGN:

Case-control study.

SETTING:

Government clinical research institute.

PARTICIPANTS:

Youth volunteers, 17 with GAD and 12 without a psychiatric diagnosis.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure blood oxygenation level-dependent signal. During imaging, subjects performed an attention-orienting task with rapidly presented (17 milliseconds) masked emotional (angry or happy) and neutral faces.

RESULTS:

When viewing masked angry faces, youth with GAD relative to comparison subjects showed greater right amygdala activation that positively correlated with anxiety disorder severity. Moreover, in a functional connectivity (psychophysiological interaction) analysis, the right amygdala and the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex showed strong negative coupling specifically to masked angry faces. This negative coupling tended to be weaker in youth with GAD than in comparison subjects.

CONCLUSIONS:

Youth with GAD have hyperactivation of the amygdala to briefly presented masked threats. The presence of threat-related negative connectivity between the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and the amygdala suggests that the prefrontal cortex modulates the amygdala response to threat. In pediatric GAD, amygdala hyperresponse occurs in the absence of a compensatory increase in modulation by the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex.

PMID:
18458208
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2443697
Free PMC Article

Images from this publication.See all images (4)Free text

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Silverchair Information Systems Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk