Cognitive theory and therapy of anxiety and depression: convergence with neurobiological findings

Trends Cogn Sci. 2010 Sep;14(9):418-24. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2010.06.007. Epub 2010 Jul 23.


In this review paper a modified cognitive neurophysiological model of Aaron T. Beck's cognitive formulation of anxiety and depression is proposed that provides an elaborated account of the cognitive and neural mediational processes of cognitive therapy (CT). Empirical evidence consistent with this model is discussed that indicates the effectiveness of cognitive therapy could be associated with reduced activation of the amygdalohippocampal subcortical regions implicated in the generation of negative emotion and increased activation of higher-order frontal regions involved in cognitive control of negative emotion. Future cognitive neuroscience research is needed on the unique brain substrates affected by CT and their role in facilitating symptom change. This future research would have important implications for improving the efficiency and efficacy of this treatment approach.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / physiopathology*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Cerebrum / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Depression / physiopathology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / physiopathology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Thinking / physiology