Modulation of the neural network involved in the processing of anger prosody: the role of task-relevance and social phobia

Biol Psychol. 2008 May;78(2):129-37. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2008.01.014. Epub 2008 Feb 15.


Individuals with social phobia display neural hyperactivation towards angry facial expressions. However, it is uncertain whether they also show abnormal brain responses when processing angry voices. In an event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging study, we investigated brain responses to neutral and angry voices in 12 healthy control participants and 12 individuals with social phobia when emotional prosody was either task-relevant or task-irrelevant. Regardless of task, both phobic and non-phobic participants recruited a network comprising frontotemporal regions, the amygdala, the insula, and the striatum, when listening to angry compared to neutral prosody. Across participants, increased activation in orbitofrontal cortex during task-relevant as compared to task-irrelevant emotional prosody processing was found. Compared to healthy controls, individuals with social phobia displayed significantly stronger orbitofrontal activation in response to angry versus neutral voices under both task conditions. These results suggest a disorder-associated increased involvement of the orbitofrontal cortex in response to threatening voices in social phobia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Anger / physiology*
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Linguistics*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Phobic Disorders / pathology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis


  • Oxygen