Amygdala and Ventrolateral Prefrontal Cortex Function During Anticipated Peer Evaluation in Pediatric Social Anxiety

Mood and Anxiety Program, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, 15K North Dr, Room 208, Bethesda, MD 20892-2670, USA.
Archives of general psychiatry (Impact Factor: 14.48). 12/2008; 65(11):1303-12. DOI: 10.1001/archpsyc.65.11.1303
Source: PubMed


Amygdala and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (vlPFC) dysfunction manifests in adolescents with anxiety disorders when they view negatively valenced stimuli in threatening contexts. Such fear-circuitry dysfunction may also manifest when anticipated social evaluation leads socially anxious adolescents to misperceive peers as threatening.
To determine whether photographs of negatively evaluated smiling peers viewed during anticipated social evaluation engage the amygdala and vlPFC differentially in adolescents with and without social anxiety.
Case-control study.
Government clinical research institute.
Fourteen adolescents with anxiety disorders associated with marked concerns of social evaluation and 14 adolescents without a psychiatric diagnosis matched on sex, age, intelligence quotient, and socioeconomic status.
Blood oxygenation level-dependent signal measured with event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging. Before and during neuroimaging scans, participants anticipating social evaluation completed peer- and self-appraisals. Event-related analyses were tailored to participants' ratings of specific peers.
Participants classified 40 pictures of same-age peers as ones with whom they did or did not want to engage in a social interaction. Anxious adolescents showed greater amygdala activation than healthy adolescents when anticipating evaluation from peers previously rated as undesired for an interaction. Psychophysiological interaction connectivity analyses also revealed a significant positive association between amygdala and vlPFC activation in anxious vs healthy adolescents in response to these stimuli.
Anticipating social evaluation from negatively perceived peers modulates amygdala and vlPFC engagement differentially in anxious and healthy adolescents. Amygdala and vlPFC dysfunction manifests in adolescent anxiety disorders in specific contexts of anticipated peer evaluation.

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    • "In adulthood, increased amygdala activity is associated with major depressive disorder (Drevets, 2001; Sheline et al., 2001), and generalized social phobia (Evans et al., 2008; Phan et al., 2006). In adolescence, the amygdala was found to yield stronger responses to fearful faces than adults (Thomas et al., 2001), and greater amygdala reactivity may account for adolescent vulnerability to mood disorders (Guyer, Lau, et al., 2008; Monk et al., 2008; Roberson-Nay et al., 2006). In consideration of the amygdala's role in the endocannabinoid system and affective processing, adolescent vulnerability to mood disorders and propensity for cannabis use, it is important to assess functional differences in this region in cannabis-using teenagers. "
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    • "In addition, we hypothesized that the dorsal aspect of the anterior insula (dAI), which is implicated in the processing of arousal, would be active whenever the participant's performance deviated from his/her expectations; thus especially during perceived failures or achievements (Critchley, 2005; Seeley et al., 2007). There is accumulating evidence demonstrating amygdala involvement in various negative and positive emotions (Adolphs et al., 1995; Morris et al., 1998; Phan et al., 2002), and the amygdala is particularly active in a socially evaluative context (Guyer et al., 2008; Lorberbaum et al., 2004). Additionally, meta-analyses of neuroimaging data consistently show that ventral aspects of the anterior insula (vAI), which are densely connected to the amygdala (Mesulam and Mufson, 1982), are central in human affect (Chang et al., 2013; Deen et al., 2011; Kelly et al., 2012). "
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    • "The present study uses a paradigm known to elicit biased responding in socially anxious adolescents (Guyer et al., 2008a) as a preliminary investigation of the relationship between age and social anxiety and the neural correlates of PE in a social context. Relative to traditional PE paradigms, this novel approach may be better suited for capturing between-group differences in PE, but less well suited for examining general aspects of PE learning. "
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