Social anxiety predicts amygdala activation in adolescents viewing fearful faces

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The amygdala is critically involved in the processing of anxiety in adults, but little is known about the neurogenesis of trait-anxiety during adolescence. We correlated amygdala activity during visual presentations of fearful and happy faces with scores on the Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children in 16 adolescents undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging. During fear perception, amygdala activity positively correlated with several social dimensions of anxiety, including peer rejection, humiliation, performing in public, and being separated from loved ones, but was not correlated with most measured nonsocial dimensions of anxiety. Amygdala responses during happy face presentations correlated positively only with tension/restlessness. During adolescence, amygdala activity appears to be more strongly related to social/interpersonal than nonsocial dimensions of anxiety.

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