To send content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about sending content to .
To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about sending to your Kindle.
Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Altered amygdala activation to fear-related stimuli has been proposed to be a potential neural correlate of heightened threat sensitivity in anxiety- and stress-related disorders. However, the role of stimulus awareness and disorder specificity remains widely unclear. Here we investigated amygdala responses to conscious and unconscious fearful faces in patients suffering from panic disorder (PD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and in a large sample of healthy controls (HC).
During event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging participants (n = 120; 20 PD, 20 GAD, 20 PTSD, 60 HC) were confronted with briefly presented fearful faces, neutral faces, and non-faces in a backward masking paradigm. The design allowed for the analysis of trial-by-trial face detection performance and amygdala responses to fearful v. neutral faces.
All participants exhibited increased amygdala activation to fearful v. neutral faces during conscious trials. Specifically during unconscious face processing, the PTSD, compared with all other groups, showed higher right basolateral (BLA) amygdala activity to fearful v. neutral faces.
The present study shows that BLA amygdala hyperactivity during unconscious, but not conscious, processing of fearful faces differentiates PTSD from the investigated disorders. This finding suggests an automatic and specific neural hyper-responsivity to general fear cues in PTSD and supports the idea of categorical differences between PTSD and other anxiety-related disorders.
Panic disorder (PD) patients are constantly concerned about future panic attacks and exhibit general hypersensitivity to unpredictable threat. We aimed to reveal phasic and sustained brain responses and functional connectivity of the amygdala and the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) during threat anticipation in PD.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we investigated 17 PD patients and 19 healthy controls (HC) during anticipation of temporally unpredictable aversive and neutral sounds. We used a phasic and sustained analysis model to disentangle temporally dissociable brain activations.
PD patients compared with HC showed phasic amygdala and sustained BNST responses during anticipation of aversive v. neutral stimuli. Furthermore, increased phasic activation was observed in anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), insula and prefrontal cortex (PFC). Insula and PFC also showed sustained activation. Functional connectivity analyses revealed partly distinct phasic and sustained networks.
We demonstrate a role for the BNST during unpredictable threat anticipation in PD and provide first evidence for dissociation between phasic amygdala and sustained BNST activation and their functional connectivity. In line with a hypersensitivity to uncertainty in PD, our results suggest time-dependent involvement of brain regions related to fear and anxiety.
There is an ongoing debate whether transdiagnostic neural mechanisms are shared by different anxiety-related disorders or whether different disorders show distinct neural correlates. To investigate this issue, studies controlling for design and stimuli across multiple anxiety-related disorders are needed.
The present functional magnetic resonance imaging study investigated neural correlates of visual disorder-related threat processing across unmedicated patients suffering from panic disorder (n = 20), social anxiety disorder (n = 20), dental phobia (n = 16) and post-traumatic stress disorder (n = 11) relative to healthy controls (HC; n = 67). Each patient group and the corresponding HC group saw a tailor-made picture set with 50 disorder-related and 50 neutral scenes.
Across all patients, increased activation to disorder-related v. neutral scenes was found in subregions of the bilateral amygdala. In addition, activation of the lateral amygdala to disorder-related v. neutral scenes correlated positively with subjective anxiety ratings of scenes across patients. Furthermore, whole-brain analysis revealed increased responses to disorder-related threat across the four disorders in middle, medial and superior frontal regions, (para-)limbic regions, such as the insula and thalamus, as well as in the brainstem and occipital lobe. We found no disorder-specific brain responses.
The results suggest that pathologically heightened lateral amygdala activation is linked to experienced anxiety across anxiety disorders and trauma- and stressor-related disorders. Furthermore, the transdiagnostically shared activation network points to a common neural basis of abnormal responses to disorder-related threat stimuli across the four investigated disorders.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this to your organisation's collection.