A neural mediator of human anxiety sensitivity

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Publication Details

Author list: Soriano-Mas C
Publisher: Wiley: 12 months
Publication year: 2015
Journal: Human Brain Mapping (1065-9471)
Volume number: 36
Issue number: 10
Start page: 3950
End page: 3958
Number of pages: 9
ISSN: 1065-9471
eISSN: 1097-0193
Languages: English-Great Britain (EN-GB)


Abstract

Advances in the neuroscientific understanding of bodily autonomic
awareness, or interoception, have led to the hypothesis that human trait
anxiety sensitivity (AS)-the fear of bodily autonomic arousal-is
primarily mediated by the anterior insular cortex. Despite broad appeal,
few experimental studies have comprehensively addressed this
hypothesis. We recruited 55 individuals exhibiting a range of AS and
assessed them with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during
aversive fear conditioning. For each participant, three primary measures
of interest were derived: a trait Anxiety Sensitivity Index score; an
in-scanner rating of elevated bodily anxiety sensations during fear
conditioning; and a corresponding estimate of whole-brain functional
activation to the conditioned versus nonconditioned stimuli. Using a
voxel-wise mediation analysis framework, we formally tested for 'neural
mediators' of the predicted association between trait AS score and
in-scanner anxiety sensations during fear conditioning. Contrary to the
anterior insular hypothesis, no evidence of significant mediation was
observed for this brain region, which was instead linked to perceived
anxiety sensations independently from AS. Evidence for significant
mediation was obtained for the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex-a
finding that we argue is more consistent with the hypothesized role of
human cingulofrontal cortex in conscious threat appraisal processes,
including threat-overestimation. This study offers an important
neurobiological validation of the AS construct and identifies a specific
neural substrate that may underlie high AS clinical phenotypes,
including but not limited to panic disorder.


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Last updated on 2019-13-08 at 00:45