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Accepted manuscript

Neural Correlates of Learning Accommodation and Consolidation in Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 May 2022

Marta Migó
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
Tina Chou
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
Alik S. Widge
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Amy T. Peters
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
Kristen Ellard
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
Darin D. Dougherty*
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
Thilo Deckersbach
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts University of Applied Sciences, Diploma Hochschule, Germany
*
Corresponding Author: Darin D. Dougherty, MD, MMSc, Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Psychiatry, Bldg. 149, 13th Street, 10th Floor, Charlestown, MA 02129, Phone: (617) 724 6143, Email: ddougherty@partners.org

Abstract

Objective

Anxiety can interfere with attention and working memory, which are components that affect learning. Statistical models have been designed to study learning, such as the Bayesian Learning Model, which takes into account prior possibilities and behaviors to determine how much of a new behavior is determined by learning instead of chance. However, the neurobiological basis underlying how anxiety interferes with learning is not yet known. Accordingly, we aimed to use neuroimaging techniques and apply a Bayesian Learning Model to study learning in individuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

Methods

Participants were 25 controls and 14 individuals with GAD and comorbid disorders. During fMRI, participants completed a shape-button association learning and reversal task. Using a flexible factorial analysis in SPM, activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, basal ganglia, and hippocampus were compared between groups during First Reversal. Beta values from the peak of these regions were extracted for all learning conditions and submitted to repeated measures analyses in SPSS.

Results

Individuals with GAD showed less activation in the basal ganglia and the hippocampus only in the First Reversal compared with controls. This difference was not present in the Initial Learning and Second Reversal.

Conclusion

Given that the basal ganglia is associated with initial learning, and the hippocampus with transfer of knowledge from short to long term memory, our results suggest that GAD may engage these regions to a lesser extent during early accommodation or consolidation of learning, but have no longer term effects in brain activation patterns during subsequent learning.

Type
Original Article
Copyright
© Scandinavian College of Neuropsychopharmacology 2022

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