Article

Perceived social support moderates the link between threat-related amygdala reactivity and trait anxiety

Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA.
Neuropsychologia (Impact Factor: 3.45). 03/2011; 49(4):651-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.08.025
Source: PubMed

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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