Amygdala functional connectivity as a longitudinal biomarker of symptom changes in generalized anxiety

Makovac, Elena, Watson, David R, Meeten, Frances, Garfinkel, Sarah N, Cercignani, Mara, Critchley, Hugo D and Ottaviani, Cristina (2016) Amygdala functional connectivity as a longitudinal biomarker of symptom changes in generalized anxiety. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 11 (11). pp. 1719-1728. ISSN 1749-5024

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Abstract

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive worry, autonomic dysregulation and functional amygdala dysconnectivity, yet these illness markers have rarely been considered together, nor their interrelationship tested longitudinally. We hypothesized that an individual's capacity for emotion regulation predicts longer-term changes in amygdala functional connectivity, supporting the modification of GAD core symptoms. Sixteen patients with GAD (14 women) and individually matched controls were studied at two time points separated by 1 year. Resting-state fMRI data and concurrent measurement of vagally mediated heart rate variability were obtained before and after the induction of perseverative cognition. A greater rise in levels of worry following the induction predicted a stronger reduction in connectivity between right amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and enhanced coupling between left amygdala and ventral tegmental area at follow-up. Similarly, amplified physiological responses to the induction predicted increased connectivity between right amygdala and thalamus. Longitudinal shifts in a distinct set of functional connectivity scores were associated with concomitant changes in GAD symptomatology over the course of the year. Results highlight the prognostic value of indices of emotional dysregulation and emphasize the integral role of the amygdala as a critical hub in functional neural circuitry underlying the progression of GAD symptomatology.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Generalized anxiety disorder, Longitudinal, Heart rate variability, Amygdala functional connectivity, Perseverative cognition, Emotion regulation
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Neuroscience
Subjects: R Medicine
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neurosciences. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Depositing User: Patricia Butler
Date Deposited: 22 Sep 2016 14:29
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2017 17:51
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/63414

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