Resting functional connectivity in social anxiety disorder and the effect of pharmacotherapy

Psychiatry Res Neuroimaging. 2016 May 30;251:34-44. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2016.04.009. Epub 2016 Apr 16.


Neuroimaging research has reported differences in resting-state functional connectivity (RFC) between social anxiety disorder (SAD) patients and healthy controls (HCs). Limited research has examined the effect of treatment on RFC in SAD. We performed a study to identify differences in RFC between SAD and HC groups, and to investigate the effect of pharmacotherapy on RFC in SAD. Seed-based RFC analysis was performed on technetium-99m hexamethylpropylene amine oxime (Tc-99m HMPAO) SPECT scans using a cross-subject approach in SPM-12. Seeds were chosen to represent regions in a recently published network model of SAD. A second-level regression analysis was performed to further characterize the underlying relationships identified in the group contrasts. Twenty-three SAD participants were included, of which 18 underwent follow-up measures after an 8-week course of citalopram or moclobemide. Fifteen healthy control (HC) scans were included. SAD participants at baseline demonstrated several significant connectivity disturbances consistent with the existing network model as well as one previously unreported finding (increased connectivity between cerebellum and posterior cingulate cortex). After therapy, the SAD group demonstrated significant increases in connectivity with dorsal anterior cingulate cortex which may explain therapy-induced modifications in how SAD sufferers interpret emotions in others and improvements in self-related and emotional processing.

Keywords: Anterior cingulate; Pharmacologic effects; Phobia, social; SPECT.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / physiology
  • Citalopram / pharmacology
  • Citalopram / therapeutic use*
  • Emotions / drug effects
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Moclobemide / pharmacology
  • Moclobemide / therapeutic use*
  • Neuroimaging / methods
  • Phobia, Social / diagnostic imaging*
  • Phobia, Social / drug therapy*
  • Phobia, Social / psychology
  • Rest / physiology
  • Technetium Tc 99m Exametazime
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Citalopram
  • Technetium Tc 99m Exametazime
  • Moclobemide