Task-dependent modulation of amygdala connectivity in social anxiety disorder

L. Minkova, R. Sladky, Georg Kranz, M. Woletz, N. Geissberger, C. Kraus, R. Lanzenberger, C. Windischberger

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


© 2017 The AuthorsIncreased amygdala activation is consistently found in patients suffering from social anxiety disorder (SAD), a psychiatric condition characterized by an intense fear of social situations and scrutiny. Disruptions in the amygdalar-frontal network in SAD may explain the inability of frontal regions to appropriately down-regulate amygdalar hyper-activation. In this study, we measured 15 SAD patients and 15 healthy controls during an affective counting Stroop task with emotional faces to assess the interaction of affective stimuli with a cognitive task in SAD, as well as to investigate the causal interactions between the amygdala and the medial orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) using dynamic causal modeling (DCM). Here we show for the first time that differences in OFC-amygdala effective connectivity between SAD patients and healthy controls are influenced by cognitive load during task processing. In SAD patients relative to controls dysfunctional amygdala regulation was observed during passive viewing of harsh faces This could be linked to ongoing self-initiated cognitive processes (such as rumination and anticipation of negative events) that hinder successful amygdala regulation. However, between-group differences diminished during cognitive processing, suggesting that attentional load interfered with emotional processing in both patients and controls.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-46
Number of pages8
JournalPsychiatry Research - Neuroimaging
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Affective counting Stroop task
  • DCM
  • Effective connectivity
  • FMRI
  • SAD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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