Trait attentional control modulates neurofunctional response to threat distractors in anxiety and depression

Heide Klumpp*, Kerry L. Kinney, Amy E. Kennedy, Stewart A Shankman, Scott A. Langenecker, Anand Kumar, K. Luan Phan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Accumulating data suggest attentional control capability varies across psychiatric diagnostic boundaries. The Attentional Control Scale (ACS) assesses self-reported trait attentional control (TAC) and tracks the anterior attention system. Greater TAC is associated with less negative affect, however, its mechanisms in anxiety and depression are poorly understood. Therefore, we examined whether individual differences in TAC modulated top-down mechanisms in a clinical sample. During fMRI, 104 patients with social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and/or major depression and 34 healthy participants completed a validated attentional control paradigm comprising strings of letters superimposed on threatening and neutral face distractors. In the low perceptual load condition, a target letter was in a string of identical letters. In the high load condition, a target letter was in a mixed letter string. Whole-brain regression results for low load revealed more activation to threat (vs. neutral) distractors in the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex was predicted by better TAC (i.e., higher ACS scores). For high load, regression results showed less activation to threat (vs. neutral) distractors in the inferior frontal gyrus was predicted by better TAC. An exploratory whole-brain ANOVA revealed a main effect of group in the superior temporal gyrus and a main effect of perceptual load in parietal, frontal, and limbic regions. No other effects were detected and activation derived from significant ANOVA results did not correlate with ACS scores. In conclusion, regression findings suggest individual differences in brain-behavioral ACS-related activity in frontal structures may be useful in identifying phenotypes in internalizing conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-95
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
Volume102
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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