BEHAVIORAL INHIBITION AS A RISK FACTOR FOR SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER: TEMPERAMENT, ATTENTION TO THREAT, AND NEURAL CORRELATES

Restricted (Penn State Only)
Author:
Auday, Eran Shlomo
Graduate Program:
Psychology
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
May 05, 2017
Committee Members:
  • Koraly Elisa Perez-Edgar, Dissertation Advisor
  • Koraly Elisa Perez-Edgar, Committee Chair
  • Ginger A Moore, Committee Member
  • Jose Angel Soto, Committee Member
  • Charles Geier, Outside Member
Keywords:
  • MRI
  • anxiety
  • social anxiety
  • pediatric anxiety
  • structural MRI
  • functional MRI
  • Temperament
  • Behavioral Inhibition
  • Masked Threat
  • Attention Bias to Threat
Abstract:
Despite methodological advances in recent decades that allow examination of brain structure and function, we still do not have a clear understanding of the neural mechanisms that underlie the development and maintenance of SAD. Furthermore, as the literature focuses mostly on adult samples, it limits our understanding of the development and maintenance of underlying affective mechanisms that potentially contribute to clinical levels of anxiety. Behavioral inhibition (BI) is an early-appearing temperament trait and a robust predictor of social anxiety disorder (SAD). Both BI and anxiety may have distinct patterns of emotion processing marked by heightened neural responses to threat cues. Therefore, examining early BI and associated neural underpinnings in a sample of children may help elucidate such mechanisms. First, I examined BI-group differences in structural volumes of brain regions that have been implicated in social threat-processing. I found that at high-BI with reduced anterior insula volumes presented with stronger BI-SAD relations. These findings support previous reports of strong BI-SAD relations with decreasing insular volume, and its potential role in fear and anxiety modulation. Second, I examined BI-group neural responses to briefly presented facial stimuli using a face-probe task. Non-BI children displayed greater activation in several regions in response to threat faces versus neutral faces, including striatum, prefrontal and temporal lobes. When comparing congruent and incongruent trials, which require attention disengagement, BI children showed greater activation than non-BI children in the cerebellum, which is implicated in rapidly coordinating information processing, aversive conditioning, and learning the precise timing of anticipatory responses. Third, I examined whether the associations between parent-ratings of anxiety symptoms pre and post an attention training manipulation is moderated by a-priori selected brain volumes. I found that while volumes of the insula, ACC, and OFC were associated with anxiety in the active control group, they were not associated in the active ABMT group. These findings set the foundation for further examination of neural structure and its associations with anxiety, across development, to further clarify mechanisms of risk and resilience.