A functional magnetic resonance imaging investigation of uncertainty in adolescents with anxiety disorders.

New York University Child Study Center, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA.
Biological psychiatry (Impact Factor: 9.47). 04/2008; 63(6):563-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2007.06.011
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Pediatric anxiety disorders, although highly prevalent, are understudied with little known about their pathophysiology. Intolerance of uncertainty (IU) is a trait associated with worry, a key characteristic of these disorders. Neural responses to uncertainty in healthy subjects involve the same frontal-limbic circuits that are hyper-responsive in pediatric anxiety. As such, the present study examines the relationship between IU and neural responses to uncertainty in anxious adolescents.
Sixteen adolescents (ages 13-17) diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and/or social phobia (ANX) and 13 non-anxious control subjects completed a decision-making task while functional magnetic resonance imaging scans were acquired.
The ANX group endorsed greater task-related anxiety and less certainty than control subjects on a post-task questionnaire. Compared with control subjects, the ANX group did not demonstrate hyper-responsivity of brain regions as hypothesized. Across groups, IU was positively correlated with activity in several frontal and limbic regions. Further analyses identified subgroups within the ANX group: those with high IU activated frontal/limbic regions, whereas those with low IU and less anxiety during the task deactivated the same regions in response to uncertainty.
Results substantiate the hypothesized link between IU and neural responses to uncertainty in some adolescents with anxiety disorders. Our findings, if replicated, suggest that trait measures, such as IU, can significantly improve our understanding of the neurobiological basis of pediatric anxiety disorders.

Download full-text


Available from: Daniel S Pine, Jul 03, 2015
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Science education studies have revealed that students often have misconceptions about how nature works, but what happens to misconceptions after a conceptual change remains poorly understood. Are misconceptions rejected and replaced by scientific conceptions, or are they still present in students’ minds, coexisting with newly acquired scientific conceptions? In this study, we use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare brain activation between novices and experts in science when they evaluate the correctness of simple electric circuits. Results show that experts, more than novices, activate brain areas involved in inhibition when they evaluate electric circuits in which a bulb lights up, even though there is only one wire connecting it to the battery. These findings suggest that experts may still have a misconception encoded in the neural networks of their brains that must be inhibited in order to answer scientifically.
    Mind Brain and Education 03/2014; 8(1):44-55. DOI:10.1111/mbe.12043 · 1.35 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to identify the brain-based mechanisms of uncertainty and certainty associated with answers to multiple-choice questions involving common misconceptions about electric circuits. Twenty-two scientifically novice participants (humanities and arts college students) were asked, in an fMRI study, whether or not they thought the light bulbs in images presenting electric circuits were lighted up correctly, and if they were certain or uncertain of their answers. When participants reported that they were unsure of their responses, analyses revealed significant activations in brain areas typically involved in uncertainty (anterior cingulate cortex, anterior insula cortex, and superior/dorsomedial frontal cortex) and in the left middle/superior temporal lobe. Certainty was associated with large bilateral activations in the occipital and parietal regions usually involved in visuospatial processing. Correct-and-certain answers were associated with activations that suggest a stronger mobilization of visual attention resources when compared to incorrect-and-certain answers. These findings provide insights into brain-based mechanisms of uncertainty that are activated when common misconceptions, identified as such by science education research literature, interfere in decision making in a school-like task. We also discuss the implications of these results from an educational perspective.
    Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 01/2014; 8:14. DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00014 · 2.90 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: There have been few attempts to integrate neurobiological and cognitive models of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), although this might constitute a key approach to clarify the complex etiology of the disorder. Our study aimed to explore the neural correlates underlying dysfunctional beliefs hypothesized by cognitive models to be involved in the development and maintenance of OCD. We obtained a high-resolution magnetic resonance image from fifty OCD patients and 30 healthy controls, and correlated them, voxel-wise, with the severity of OC-related dysfunctional beliefs assessed by the Obsessive Beliefs Questionnaire-44. In healthy controls, significant negative correlations were observed between anterior temporal lobe (ATL) volume and scores on perfectionism/intolerance of uncertainty and overimportance/need to control thoughts. No significant correlations between OBQ-44 domains and regional gray matter volumes were observed in OCD patients. A post-hoc region-of-interest analysis detected that the ATLs were bilaterally smaller in OCD patients. On splitting subjects into high- and low-belief subgroups, we observed that such brain structural differences between OCD patients and healthy controls were explained by significantly larger ATL volumes among healthy subjects from the low-belief subgroup. Our results suggest a significant correlation between OC-related dysfunctional beliefs and morphometric variability in the anterior temporal lobe, a brain structure related to socio-emotional processing. Future studies should address the interaction of these correlations with environmental factors to fully characterize the bases of OC-related dysfunctional beliefs and to advance in the integration of biological and cognitive models of OCD.
    Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry 08/2013; DOI:10.1016/j.pnpbp.2013.07.016 · 4.03 Impact Factor