A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Investigation of Uncertainty in Adolescents with Anxiety Disorders
Adolescence, anxiety, fMRI, uncertainty, decision- making
Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences
Background: 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.
Methods: Sixteenadolescents(ages13–17)diagnosedwithgeneralizedanxietydisorderand/orsocialphobia(ANX)and13non-anxious control subjects completed a decision-making task while functional magnetic resonance imaging scans were acquired.
Results: TheANXgroupendorsedgreatertask-relatedanxietyandlesscertaintythancontrolsubjectsonapost-taskquestionnaire.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.
Conclusions: ResultssubstantiatethehypothesizedlinkbetweenIUandneuralresponsestouncertaintyinsomeadolescentswithanxiety disorders. Our findings, if replicated, suggest that trait measures, such as IU, can significantly improve our understanding of the neurobio- logical basis of pediatric anxiety disorders.
Krain, Amy L.; Gotimer, Kristin; Hefton, Sara; Ernst, Monique; Castellanos, F. Xavier; Pine, Daniel S.; and Milham, Michael P., "A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Investigation of Uncertainty in Adolescents with Anxiety Disorders" (2008). Psychology Faculty Publications. 142.