Preschool Anxiety Disorders
In this prospective, longitudinal study of young children, we examined whether a history of preschool generalized anxiety, separation anxiety, and/or social phobia is associated with amygdala-prefrontal dysregulation at school-age. As an exploratory analysis, we investigated whether distinct anxiety disorders differ in the patterns of this amygdala-prefrontal dysregulation.
Participants were children taking part in a 5-year study of early childhood brain development and anxiety disorders. Preschool symptoms of generalized anxiety, separation anxiety, and social phobia were assessed with the Preschool Age Psychiatric Assessment (PAPA) in the first wave of the study when the children were between 2 and 5 years old. The PAPA was repeated at age 6. We conducted functional MRIs when the children were 5.5 to 9.5 year old to assess neural responses to viewing of angry and fearful faces.
A history of preschool social phobia predicted less school-age functional connectivity between the amygdala and the ventral prefrontal cortices to angry faces. Preschool generalized anxiety predicted less functional connectivity between the amygdala and dorsal prefrontal cortices in response to fearful faces. Finally, a history of preschool separation anxiety predicted less school-age functional connectivity between the amygdala and the ventral prefrontal cortices to angry faces and greater school-age functional connectivity between the amygdala and dorsal prefrontal cortices to angry faces.
Our results suggest that there are enduring neurobiological effects associated with a history of preschool anxiety, which occur over-and-above the effect of subsequent emotional symptoms. Our results also provide preliminary evidence for the neurobiological differentiation of specific preschool anxiety disorders.
- Kevin Pelphrey
- Pooja Gaur
- Allen W. Song
- Nan-Kuei Chen
- Helen L. Egger
- William E. Copeland
- Adrian Angold
- Kimberly L. H. Carpenter
Contact Information:Name: Kimberly Carpenter
Acknowledgements and Funding:
The authors would like to thank Drs. E. Jane Costello, Lauren Franz, and Guillermo Sapiro, all of Duke University, for their thoughtful feedback on this manuscript and many fruitful discussions concerning this data. We would also like to thank our study coordinators, Kristen Caldwell and Brian Small, and our interviewing team: Alice Bartram, Andrew Blonde, Carmen Bondy, Jason Chavarria, Priscilla Mpasi, Adrienne Pearson, Kirsten Robb, Alex Vann, and Lucy Zhang. Finally, we are especially grateful to the families who participated in this study.
External Publication Links:Preschool anxiety disorders predict different patterns of amygdala-prefrontal connectivity at school-age.
3T GE Signa EXCITE HD; 3T GE MR750
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This data was obtained from the OpenfMRI database. Its accession number is ds000144
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Revision: 1.0.0 Date Set: Jan. 9, 2018, 10:07 p.m.
- Initial revision