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1.  Anxiety positive subjects show altered processing in the anterior insula during anticipation of negative stimuli 
Human brain mapping  2010;32(11):1836-1846.
Prior neuroimaging studies support the hypothesis that anticipation, an important component of anxiety, may be mediated by activation within the insular and medial prefrontal cortices including the anterior cingulate cortex. However, there is an insufficient understanding of how affective anticipation differs across anxiety groups in emotional brain loci and networks. We examined 14 anxiety positive (AP) and 14 anxiety normative (AN) individuals completing an affective picture anticipation task during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Brain activation was examined across groups for cued anticipation (to aversive or pleasant stimuli). Both groups showed greater activation in the bilateral anterior insula during cued differential anticipation (i.e., aversive vs. pleasant) and activation on the right was significantly higher in AP compared to AN subjects. Functional connectivity showed that the left anterior insula was involved in a similar network during pleasant anticipation in both groups. The left anterior insula during aversive and the right anterior insula during all anticipation conditions co-activated with a cortical network consisting of frontal and parietal lobes in the AP group to a greater degree. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that anxiety is related to greater anticipatory reactivity in the brain and that there may be functional asymmetries in the brain that interact with psychiatric traits.
PMCID: PMC3215249  PMID: 21181800
2.  A Common Genetic Variant in the Neurexin Superfamily Member CNTNAP2 is Associated with Increased Risk for Selective Mutism and Social Anxiety-Related Traits 
Biological psychiatry  2010;69(9):825-831.
Selective mutism (SM), considered an early-onset variant of social anxiety disorder (SAD), shares features of impaired social interaction and communication with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) that suggest a possible shared pathophysiology. We examined the association of a susceptibility gene, contactin-associated protein-like 2 (CNTNAP2), for ASDs and specific language impairment (SLI) with SM and social anxiety-related traits.
Sample 1 subjects were 99 nuclear families including 106 children with SM. Sample 2 subjects were young adults who completed measures of social interactional anxiety (SIAS; N = 1028) and childhood behavioral inhibition (RSRI; N = 920). Five SNPs in CNTNAP2 (including rs7794745 and rs2710102, previously associated with ASDs) were genotyped.
FBAT analyses revealed nominal significance (p = 0.018) for association of SM with rs2710102 which, with rs6944808, was part of a common haplotype associated with SM (permutation p = 0.022). Adjusting for sex and ancestral proportion, each copy of the rs2710102*a risk allele in the young adults was associated with increased odds of being >1SD above the mean on the SIAS (OR = 1.33, p = 0.015) and RSRI (OR = 1.40, p = 0.010).
Although association was found with rs2710102, the risk allele (“a”) for the traits studied here is the non-risk allele for ASD and SLI (“g”). These findings suggest a partially shared etiology between ASDs and SM, but raise additional questions about specific aspects of these syndromes (i.e., language impairment and/or social anxiety) potentially influenced by CNTNAP2 and mechanism(s) by which these influences may be conveyed.
PMCID: PMC3079072  PMID: 21193173
genetics; anxiety disorders; speech; childhood; autism; autism spectrum; social anxiety; behavioral inhibition
3.  Psychometrics of a Brief Measure of Anxiety to Detect Severity and Impairment: The Overall Anxiety Severity and Impairment Scale (OASIS) 
Journal of psychiatric research  2010;45(2):262-268.
Brief measures of anxiety related severity and impairment that can be used across anxiety disorders and with subsyndromal anxiety are lacking. The Overall Anxiety Severity and Impairment Scale (OASIS) have shown strong psychometric properties with college students and primary care patients. This study examines sensitivity, specificity, and efficiency of an abbreviated version of the OASIS that takes only 2–3 minutes to complete using a non-clinical (college student) sample. 48 participants completed the OASIS and SCID for anxiety disorders, 21 had a diagnosis of ≥1 anxiety disorder, and 4 additional participants had a subthreshold diagnosis. A cut-score of 8 best discriminated those with anxiety disorders from those without, successfully classifying 78% of the sample with 69% sensitivity and 74% specificity. Results from a larger sample (n=171) showed a single factor structure and excellent convergent and divergent validity. The availability of cut-scores for a non-clinical sample furthers the utility of this measure for settings where screening or brief assessment of anxiety is needed.
PMCID: PMC2970755  PMID: 20609450
anxiety; measurement; psychometrics; screening
4.  Recent Findings in Social Phobia among Children and Adolescents 
Childhood social phobia (SP) is common and associated with varying forms of impairment. The cause of social anxiety disorder is often complex, involving both genetic and environmental factors. Shyness in young children may be a possible precursor to social anxiety later in life, although not the sole antecedent. Current assessment of childhood social anxiety includes psychometrically sound self report and clinician administered measures either specifically targeting SP disorder or including the construct as a subscale of a broader measure. The type of measure that is used most often depends on the purpose of the assessment, the setting, time constraints, and required training. Extant data support the efficacy of both psychosocial and pharmacological interventions, with response rates ranging from 50–80%. Further research is needed to clarify the developmental stages of SP, the psychometric properties of brief measures, as well as the efficacy of combined interventions.
PMCID: PMC2925835  PMID: 19728571
5.  The Selective Mutism Questionnaire: Measurement Structure and Validity 
To evaluate the factor structure, reliability, and validity of the 17-item Selective Mutism Questionnaire.
Diagnostic interviews were administered via telephone to 102 parents of children identified with selective mutism (SM) and 43 parents of children without SM from varying U.S. geographic regions. Children were between the ages of 3 and 11 inclusive and comprised 58% girls and 42% boys. SM diagnoses were determined using the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule for Children - Parent Version (ADIS-C/P); SM severity was assessed using the 17-item Selective Mutism Questionnaire (SMQ); and behavioral and affective symptoms were assessed using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). An exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was conducted to investigate the dimensionality of the SMQ and a modified parallel analysis procedure was used to confirm EFA results. Internal consistency, construct validity, and incremental validity were also examined.
The EFA yielded a 13-item solution consisting of three factors: a) Social Situations Outside of School, b) School Situations, and c) Home and Family Situations. Internal consistency of SMQ factors and total scale ranged from moderate to high. Convergent and incremental validity were also well supported.
Measure structure findings are consistent with the 3-factor solution found in a previous psychometric evaluation of the SMQ. Results also suggest that the SMQ provides useful and unique information in the prediction of SM phenomenon beyond other child anxiety measures.
PMCID: PMC2925837  PMID: 18698268
Selective mutism; child anxiety; psychometric properties; parent-report
7.  Association between Individual Differences in Self-Reported Emotional Resilience and the Affective Perception of Neutral Faces 
Journal of affective disorders  2008;114(1-3):286-293.
Resilience, i.e., the ability to cope with stress and adversity, relies heavily on judging adaptively complex situations. Judging facial emotions is a complex process of daily living that is important for evaluating the affective context of uncertain situations, which could be related to the individual's level of resilience. We used a novel experimental paradigm to test the hypothesis that highly resilient individuals show a judgment bias towards positive emotions.
65 non-treatment seeking subjects completed a forced emotional choice task when presented with neutral faces and faces morphed to display a range of emotional intensities across sadness, fear, and happiness.
Overall, neutral faces were judged more often to be sad or fearful than happy. Furthermore, high compared to low resilient individuals showed a bias towards happiness, particularly when judging neutral faces.
This is a cross-sectional study with a non-clinical sample.
These results support the hypothesis that resilient individuals show a bias towards positive emotions when faced with uncertain emotional expressions. This capacity may contribute to their ability to better cope with certain types of difficult situations, perhaps especially those that are interpersonal in nature.
PMCID: PMC2691748  PMID: 18957273
Emotion perception; Resilience; Facial expressions; Neutral faces

Results 1-7 (7)