Neural mechanisms underlying heterogeneous expression of threat-related attention in social anxiety

Travis C. Evans, Yair Bar-Haim, Nathan A. Fox, Daniel S. Pine, Jennifer C. Britton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Theoretical frameworks propose that threat-related attention, which is typically assessed using the dot-probe paradigm, plays a key role in social anxiety. Within the dot-probe paradigm, novel computational approaches demonstrate that anxious individuals exhibit multiple patterns of threat-related attention on separate trials. However, no research has leveraged such novel computational methods to delineate the neural substrates of threat-related attention patterns in social anxiety. To address this issue, fifty-three socially anxious adults (22.38 ± 3.12, 33 females) completed an fMRI-based dot-probe paradigm. A novel, response-based computation approach revealed conjoint patterns of vigilant orientation, avoidant orientation, slow disengagement, and fast disengagement, which were masked by standard computation measures. Compared to vigilant orientation and fast disengagement, avoidant orientation and slow disengagement were greater in magnitude, respectively. Mirroring behavioral findings, avoidant orientation and slow disengagement elicited greater deactivation of several regions within the Default Mode Network and stronger connectivity between the right amygdala and superior temporal sulcus. Taken together, these results suggest that distinct neural processes facilitate the heterogeneous expression of threat-related attention in social anxiety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103657
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Volume132
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2020

Keywords

  • Attention
  • Dot-probe
  • Information processing
  • Neural
  • Social anxiety
  • Threat
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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