Perceived social support moderates the link between threat-related amygdala reactivity and trait anxiety
ABSTRACT Several lines of research have illustrated that negative environments can precipitate psychopathology, particularly in the context of relatively increased biological risk, while social resources can buffer the effects of these environments. However, little research has examined how social resources might buffer proximal biological risk for psychopathology or the neurobiological pathways through which such buffering may be mediated. Here we report that the expression of trait anxiety as a function of threat-related amygdala reactivity is moderated by perceived social support, a resource for coping with adversity. A significant positive correlation between amygdala reactivity and trait anxiety was evident in individuals reporting below average levels of support but not in those reporting average or above average levels. These results were consistent across multiple measures of trait anxiety and were specific to anxiety in that they did not extend to measures of broad negative or positive affect. Our findings illuminate a biological pathway, namely moderation of amygdala-related anxiety, through which social support may confer resilience to psychopathology. Moreover, our results indicate that links between neural reactivity and behavior are not static but rather may be contingent on social resources.
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ABSTRACT: The aim of the proposed theoretical model is to illuminate personal and interpersonal resilience by drawing from the field of emotional face perception. We suggest that perception/recognition of emotional facial expressions serves as a central link between subjective, self-related processes and the social context. Emotional face perception constitutes a salient social cue underlying interpersonal communication and behavior. Because problems in communication and interpersonal behavior underlie most, if not all, forms of psychopathology, it follows that perception/recognition of emotional facial expressions impacts psychopathology. The ability to accurately interpret one's facial expression is crucial in subsequently deciding on an appropriate course of action. However, perception in general, and of emotional facial expressions in particular, is highly influenced by individuals' personality and the self-concept. Herein we briefly outline well-established theories of personal and interpersonal resilience and link them to the neuro-cognitive basis of face perception. We then describe the findings of our ongoing program of research linking two well-established resilience factors, general self-efficacy (GSE) and perceived social support (PSS), with face perception. We conclude by pointing out avenues for future research focusing on possible genetic markers and patterns of brain connectivity associated with the proposed model. Implications of our integrative model to psychotherapy are discussed.Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 08/2014; 8:602. DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00602 · 2.90 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Functional neuroimaging often generates large amounts of data on regions of interest. Such data can be addressed effectively with a widely-used statistical technique based on measurement theory that has not yet been applied to neuroimaging. Confirmatory factor analysis is a convenient hypothesis-driven modeling environment that can be used to conduct formal statistical tests comparing alternative hypotheses regarding the elements of putative neuronal networks. In such models, measures of each activated region of interest are treated as indicators of an underlying latent construct that represents the contemporaneous activation of the elements in the network. As such, confirmatory factor analysis focuses analyses on the activation of hypothesized networks as a whole, improves statistical power by modeling measurement error, and provides a theory-based approach to data reduction with a robust statistical basis. This approach is illustrated using data on seven regions of interest in a hypothesized mesocorticostriatal reward system in a sample of 262 adult volunteers assessed during a card-guessing reward task. A latent construct reflecting contemporaneous activation of the reward system was found to be significantly associated with a latent construct measuring impulsivity, particularly in males.NeuroImage 02/2012; 60(4):1982-91. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.02.002 · 6.13 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The amygdala is critically involved in mediating physiological and behavioral responses to threat. In particular, neuroimaging research indicates that the amygdala is highly responsive to facial signals of threat such as fearful and angry expressions. However, individuals differ substantially in both their relative sensitivity to threat and the magnitude of amygdala reactivity to facial signals of threat. Here, we report the novel finding that individual differences in trait anger are positively correlated with bilateral dorsal amygdala reactivity to angry facial expressions, but only among men with elevated trait anxiety scores. These findings add to the growing body of evidence indicating that variability in personality traits contribute to individual differences in threat-related amygdala reactivity and further suggest that heightened amygdala reactivity to angry faces may be uniquely involved in the expression of reactive aggression in men.Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 12/2010; 7(2):213-21. DOI:10.1093/scan/nsq101 · 5.88 Impact Factor