Fear conditioning in adolescents with anxiety disorders: results from a novel experimental paradigm.
ABSTRACT Considerable research examines fear conditioning in adult anxiety disorders but few studies examine youths. Adult data suggest that anxiety disorders involve elevated fear but intact differential conditioning. We used a novel paradigm to assess fear conditioning in pediatric anxiety patients.
Sixteen individuals with anxiety disorders and 38 healthy comparisons viewed two photographs of actresses displaying neutral expressions. One picture served as the conditioned stimulus (CS), paired with a fearful expression and a shrieking scream (CS+), whereas the other picture served as a CS unpaired with the aversive outcome (CS-). Conditioning was indexed by self-reported fear. Subjects participated in two visits involving conditioning and extinction trials.
Both groups developed greater fear of the CS+ relative to CS-. Higher fear levels collapsed across each CS characterized anxious relative to healthy subjects, but no significant interaction between group and stimulus type emerged. Fear levels at visit 1 predicted avoidance of visit 2. Fear levels to both CS types showed stability even after extinction.
Consistent with adult data, pediatric anxiety involves higher fear levels following conditioning but not greater differential conditioning. Extending these methods to neuroimaging studies may elucidate neural correlates of fear conditioning. Implications for exposure therapies are discussed.
Full-textDOI: · Available from: Eric E Nelson, May 29, 2015
Journal of Child and Family Studies 01/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10826-015-0117-7 · 1.42 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The aim of the current study was twofold: (1) to systematically examine differences in fear conditioning between anxiety patients and healthy controls using meta-analytic methods, and (2) to examine the extent to which study characteristics may account for the variability in findings across studies. Forty-four studies (published between 1920 and 2013) with data on 963 anxiety disordered patients and 1,222 control subjects were obtained through PubMed and PsycINFO, as well as from a previous meta-analysis on fear conditioning (Lissek et al.). Results demonstrated robustly increased fear responses to conditioned safety cues (CS-) in anxiety patients compared to controls during acquisition. This effect may represent an impaired ability to inhibit fear in the presence of safety cues (CS-) and/or may signify an increased tendency in anxiety disordered patients to generalize fear responses to safe stimuli resembling the conditioned danger cue (CS+). In contrast, during extinction, patients show stronger fear responses to the CS+ and a trend toward increased discrimination learning (differentiation between the CS+ and CS-) compared to controls, indicating delayed and/or reduced extinction of fear in anxiety patients. Finally, none of the included study characteristics, such as the type of fear measure (subjective vs. psychophysiological index of fear), could account significantly for the variance in effect sizes across studies. Further research is needed to investigate the predictive value of fear extinction on treatment outcome, as extinction processes are thought to underlie the beneficial effects of exposure treatment in anxiety disorders. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.Depression and Anxiety 02/2015; 32(4). DOI:10.1002/da.22353 · 4.29 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The fornix is the primary subcortical output fiber system of the hippocampal formation. In children with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS), hippocampal volume reduction has been commonly reported, but few studies as yet have evaluated the integrity of the fornix. Therefore, we investigated the fornix of 45 school-aged children with 22q11.2DS and 38 matched typically developing (TD) children. Probabilistic diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) tractography was used to reconstruct the body of the fornix in each child׳s brain native space. Compared with children, significantly lower fractional anisotropy (FA) and higher radial diffusivity (RD) was observed bilaterally in the body of the fornix in children with 22q11.2DS. Irregularities were especially prominent in the posterior aspect of the fornix where it emerges from the hippocampus. Smaller volumes of the hippocampal formations were also found in the 22q11.2DS group. The reduced hippocampal volumes were correlated with lower fornix FA and higher fornix RD in the right hemisphere. Our findings provide neuroanatomical evidence of disrupted hippocampal connectivity in children with 22q11.2DS, which may help to further understand the biological basis of spatial impairments, affective regulation, and other factors related to the ultra-high risk for schizophrenia in this population. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.Psychiatry Research Neuroimaging 02/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.pscychresns.2015.02.002 · 2.83 Impact Factor