Characterizing Amygdala Networks in Anxious Adolescents
- Dr. Monique Ernst National Institute of Mental Health
Tract tracing studies allow us to precisely map the innervation of discrete brain regions. Depicted here is the projection from the basal nucleus of the amygdala to specific components of the extended amygdala and striatum.
Anxiety disorders emerge in adolescence and are marked by dysfunction of interconnected limbic regions, including the amygdala, pre-frontal cortex, and striatum. The amygdala has consistently been shown to be hyperactive among patients with anxiety disorders, and has connections with the pre-frontal cortex and the striatum. Certain projections from the pre-frontal cortex are thought to inhibit the amygdala, which in turn projects to the striatum to create an appropriate behavioral response to a salient stimulus. Using neuroanatomic and fMRI techniques, we are examining the hypothesis that anxious adolescents have heightened functional connectivity in amygdalostriatal paths, and decreased functional connectivity of specific prefrontal cortical-amygdala paths during anticipation of rewards and losses. Heightened sensitivity to salient stimuli, via this imbalance, may be a characteristic of anxious adolescents.« back to all projects