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

  • Gregory A. Fonzo (a1), Holly J. Ramsawh (a2), Taru M. Flagan (a2), Sarah G. Sullivan (a2), Andrea Letamendi (a1), Alan N. Simmons (a3), Martin P. Paulus (a4) and Murray B. Stein (a5)...
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.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Gregory A. Fonzo, SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, 401 Quarry Road, Mail Code 5797, Stanford, California 94305, USA. Email: gfonzo@ucsd.edu
Footnotes
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Supported by NIMH funding MH65413 and MH64122 to MBS.

Declaration of interest

None.

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

  • Gregory A. Fonzo (a1), Holly J. Ramsawh (a2), Taru M. Flagan (a2), Sarah G. Sullivan (a2), Andrea Letamendi (a1), Alan N. Simmons (a3), Martin P. Paulus (a4) and Murray B. Stein (a5)...
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