Altered Cortical-Amygdala Coupling in Social Anxiety Disorder During the Anticipation of Giving a Public Speech
Posted: 28 Oct 2016
Date Written: October 24, 2016
Background. Severe stress in social situations is a core symptom of social anxiety disorder (SAD). Connectivity between the amygdala and cortical regions is thought to be important for emotion regulation, a function that is compromised in SAD. However, it has never been tested if and how this connectivity pattern changes under conditions of stress-inducing social evaluative threat. Here we investigate changes in cortical-amygdala coupling in SAD during the anticipation of giving a public speech.
Method. Twenty individuals with SAD and age-, gender- and education-matched controls (n = 20) participated in this study. During the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) session, participants underwent three ‘resting-state’ fMRI scans: one before, one during, and one after the anticipation of giving a public speech. Functional connectivity between cortical emotion regulation regions and the amygdala was investigated.
Results. Compared to controls, SAD participants showed reduced functional integration between cortical emotion regulation regions and the amygdala during the public speech anticipation. Moreover, in SAD participants cortical-amygdala connectivity changes correlated with social anxiety symptom severity.
Conclusions. The distinctive pattern of cortical-amygdala connectivity suggests less effective cortical-subcortical communication during social stress-provoking situations in SAD.
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