Altered default mode network activity in patient with anxiety disorders: an fMRI study

Eur J Radiol. 2007 Sep;63(3):373-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2007.02.006. Epub 2007 Apr 2.


Anxiety disorder, a common mental disorder in our clinical practice, is characterized by unprovoked anxiety. Medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), which closely involved in emotional processing, are critical regions in the default mode network. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate whether default mode network activity is altered in patients with anxiety disorder. Ten anxiety patients and 10 healthy controls underwent fMRI while listening to emotionally neutral words alternating with rest (Experiment 1) and threat-related words alternating with emotionally neutral words (Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, regions of deactivation were observed in patients and controls. In Experiment 2, regions of deactivation were observed only in patients. The observed deactivation patterns in the two experiments, which included MPFC, PCC, and inferior parietal cortex, were similar and consistent with the default model network. Less deactivation in MPFC and greater deactivation in PCC were observed for patients group comparing to controls in Experiment 1. Our observations suggest that the default model network is altered in anxiety patients and dysfunction in MPFC and PCC may play an important role in anxiety psychopathology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Neurological