A Cognitive Neuroscience Approach to Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Social Phobia

Emotion Review 4 (2):133-138 (2012)
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Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and social phobia (SP) are major anxiety disorders identified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV). They are comorbid, overlap in symptoms, yet present with distinct features (worry in GAD and fear of embarrassment in SP). Both have also been explained in terms of conditioning-based models. However, there is little reasoning currently to believe that GAD in adulthood reflects heightened conditionability or heightened threat processing—though patients with SP may show heightened processing of social threat stimuli. Moreover, the computational architectures that maintain these disorders in adulthood are different. For GAD this may reflect the development of an inefficient “worrying” strategy of emotional regulation. For SP this appears to reflect the atypical processing of self-referential information.



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