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Fear responses to safety cues in anxious adolescents: preliminary evidence for atypical age-associated trajectories of functional neural circuits

Haddad, Anneke D.M.; Bilderbeck, Amy; James, Anthony C.; Lau, Jennifer Y.F.

Authors

Anneke D.M. Haddad

Amy Bilderbeck

Anthony C. James

Jennifer Y.F. Lau



Abstract

Adolescent anxiety is common and impairing and often persists into adulthood. There is growing evidence that adult anxiety is characterized by abnormal fear responses to threat and safety cues, along with perturbations in fear-related neural circuits. Although some of this work has been extended to adolescents, with promising results, it is not yet clear whether changes in these circuits across developmental age varies between anxious and non-anxious adolescents. Here we used fMRI to examine how age modulates neural responses as adolescents are exposed to threat and safety cues. Participants were 15 anxious and 11 non-anxious adolescents (age 12-17) who completed a fear conditioning paradigm. The paradigm incorporated a threat cue comprising a neutral face which was paired with a fearful, screaming face, a safety cue comprising a different neutral face, and a control stimulus. Across the whole sample, neural activation to the threat cue (relative to the control cue) correlated positively with age in a number of regions, including the dorsal anterior cingulate and bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC). However, neural activation to the safety cue (relative to the control cue) was modulated differently by age in the two groups: a more positive association between activation and age was observed in the control group compared to the anxious group in various regions including medial and dorsolateral PFC, anterior insula, and amygdala. These findings suggest that maturation of the neural substrates of fear responses to safety cues may be perturbed in anxious adolescents, potentially contributing to the emergence and maintenance of anxiety disorders in adulthood.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date May 20, 2015
Journal Journal of Psychiatric Research
Print ISSN 0022-3956
Electronic ISSN 0022-3956
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 68
APA6 Citation Haddad, A. D., Bilderbeck, A., James, A. C., & Lau, J. Y. (2015). Fear responses to safety cues in anxious adolescents: preliminary evidence for atypical age-associated trajectories of functional neural circuits. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 68, doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2015.05.009
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2015.05.009
Keywords adolescent, anxiety, magnetic resonance imaging, anxiety disorders, prefrontal cortex, conditioning
Publisher URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2015.05.009
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0
Additional Information Work completed while the first author was at the University of Oxford; manuscript accepted after move to Nottingham.

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0





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