Changes in EEG cross-frequency coupling during cognitive behavioral therapy for social anxiety disorder

Psychol Sci. 2011 Apr;22(4):507-16. doi: 10.1177/0956797611400914. Epub 2011 Mar 4.


Coupling between EEG delta and beta oscillations is enhanced among anxious and healthy individuals during anticipatory anxiety. EEG coupling patterns associated with psychotherapy have not yet been quantified in socially anxious individuals. In this study, we used a double baseline, repeated measures design, in which 25 adults with a principal diagnosis of social anxiety disorder completed 12 weekly sessions of standardized group cognitive behavioral therapy and four EEG assessments: two at pretreatment, one at midtreatment, and one at posttreatment. Treatment was associated with reductions in symptom severity across multiple measures and informants, as well as reductions in delta-beta coupling at rest and during speech anticipation. Moreover, the clinical group exhibited greater coupling at pretreatment than did post hoc control participants with low social anxiety. The EEG cross-frequency profiles in the clinical group normalized by the posttreatment assessment. These findings provide evidence of concomitant improvement in neural and behavioral functioning among socially anxious adults undergoing psychotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phobic Disorders / physiopathology
  • Phobic Disorders / therapy*
  • Speech / physiology
  • Treatment Outcome