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Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is associated with altered social norm (SN) processing: SAD-patients rate stories on SN violations as more inappropriate and more embarrassing than healthy participants, with the most prominent effect for stories on unintentional SN violations (i.e. committing a blunder). Until now it’s unknown how levels of social anxiety (SA) are related to ratings of SN violations in the general population, in which SA-symptoms are present at a continuum. More insight in this relationship could improve our understanding of the symptom profile of SAD. Therefore, we investigated the relation between ratings of SN violations and SA-levels in the general population.
Adults and adolescents (n = 87) performed the revised Social Norm Processing Task (SNPT-R) and completed self-report questionnaires on social anxiety. Repeated-measures ANCOVAs were used to investigate the effect of SA on the ratings of inappropriateness and embarrassment.
As hypothesized, participants with higher SA-levels rated SN violations as more inappropriate and more embarrassing. Whereas participants with low-to-intermediate SA-levels rated unintentional SN violations as less embarrassing than intentional SN violations, participants with high SA-levels (z-score SA ≥ 1.6) rated unintentional SN violations as equally embarrassing as intentional SN violations.
These findings indicate that increased embarrassment for unintentional SN violations is an important characteristic of social anxiety. These high levels of embarrassment are likely related to the debilitating concern of socially-anxious people that their skills and behavior do not meet expectations of others, and to their fear of blundering. This concern might be an important target for future therapeutic interventions.
Childhood maltreatment (CM) plays an important role in the development of major depressive disorder (MDD). The aim of this study was to examine whether CM severity and type are associated with MDD-related brain alterations, and how they interact with sex and age.
Within the ENIGMA-MDD network, severity and subtypes of CM using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire were assessed and structural magnetic resonance imaging data from patients with MDD and healthy controls were analyzed in a mega-analysis comprising a total of 3872 participants aged between 13 and 89 years. Cortical thickness and surface area were extracted at each site using FreeSurfer.
CM severity was associated with reduced cortical thickness in the banks of the superior temporal sulcus and supramarginal gyrus as well as with reduced surface area of the middle temporal lobe. Participants reporting both childhood neglect and abuse had a lower cortical thickness in the inferior parietal lobe, middle temporal lobe, and precuneus compared to participants not exposed to CM. In males only, regardless of diagnosis, CM severity was associated with higher cortical thickness of the rostral anterior cingulate cortex. Finally, a significant interaction between CM and age in predicting thickness was seen across several prefrontal, temporal, and temporo-parietal regions.
Severity and type of CM may impact cortical thickness and surface area. Importantly, CM may influence age-dependent brain maturation, particularly in regions related to the default mode network, perception, and theory of mind.
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