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Br J Psychiatry. 2015 Mar;206(3):206-15. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.149880. Epub 2015 Jan 8.

Common and disorder-specific neural responses to emotional faces in generalised anxiety, social anxiety and panic disorders.

Author information

1
Gregory A. Fonzo, MS, San Diego State University/University of California-San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, San Diego, California; Holly J. Ramsawh, PhD, Taru M. Flagan, BS, Sarah G. Sullivan, BA, Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California; Andrea Letamendi, MS, San Diego State University/University of California-San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, San Diego, California; Alan N. Simmons, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, VA San Diego Healthcare System, San Diego and Center of Excellence in Stress and Mental Health, San Diego, California; Martin P. Paulus, MD, Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, VA San Diego Healthcare System, San Diego and Laureate Institute for Brain Research, Tulsa, Oklahoma; Murray B. Stein, MD, MPH, Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, VA San Diego Healthcare System, San Diego and Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Although evidence exists for abnormal brain function across various anxiety disorders, direct comparison of neural function across diagnoses is needed to elicit abnormalities common across disorders and those distinct to a particular diagnosis.

AIMS:

To delineate common and distinct abnormalities within generalised anxiety (GAD), panic and social anxiety disorder (SAD) during affective processing.

METHOD:

Fifty-nine adults (15 with GAD, 15 with panic disorder, 14 with SAD, and 15 healthy controls) underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while completing a facial emotion matching task with fearful, angry and happy faces.

RESULTS:

Greater differential right amygdala activation to matching fearful v. happy facial expressions related to greater negative affectivity (i.e. trait anxiety) and was heightened across all anxiety disorder groups compared with controls. Collapsing across emotional face types, participants with panic disorder uniquely displayed greater posterior insula activation.

CONCLUSIONS:

These preliminary results highlight a common neural basis for clinical anxiety in these diagnoses and also suggest the presence of disorder-specific dysfunction.

PMID:
25573399
PMCID:
PMC4345308
DOI:
10.1192/bjp.bp.114.149880
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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