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1.  Dysfunction of ventrolateral prefrontal cortex underlying social anxiety disorder: A multi-channel NIRS study 
NeuroImage : Clinical  2015;8:455-461.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterized by strong fear and anxiety during social interactions. Although ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) activity in response to emotional stimuli is related to pathological anxiety, little is known about the relationship between VLPFC activity and social anxiety. This study aimed to investigate whether VLPFC activity was involved in SAD and whether VLPFC activity was related to the level of social anxiety. Twenty-four drug-naïve patients with SAD and 35 healthy controls underwent near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) scanning while performing a verbal fluency task (VFT). Results indicated that, compared to the healthy controls, the SAD patients exhibited smaller changes of oxygenated hemoglobin (oxy-Hb) concentrations in the VLPFC during the VFT. Furthermore, the right VLPFC activation was negatively correlated with social avoidance. In contrast to the latter, the healthy controls exhibited a positive correlation between changes of oxy-Hb concentrations in the bilateral VLPFC and social fear. Our findings provide evidence for VLPFC dysfunction in SAD, and indicate that the VLPFC dysfunction may contribute to the difference between normal and abnormal social anxiety.
•We investigated ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) activity induced by the performance of the verbal fluency task.•Smaller changes of oxygenated hemoglobin (oxy-Hb) concentrations in bilateral VLPFC in SAD patients•Negative correlation between changes of oxy-Hb concentrations in right VLPFC and social avoidance in SAD patients•Positive correlation between changes of oxy-Hb concentrations in bilateral VLPFC and social fear in healthy subjects
PMCID: PMC4474365  PMID: 26106570
Social anxiety disorder; Ventrolateral prefrontal cortex; Emotion; Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS)
2.  Near-Infrared Spectroscopy in Schizophrenia: A Possible Biomarker for Predicting Clinical Outcome and Treatment Response 
Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a relatively new technique that can measure hemoglobin changes in brain tissues, and its use in psychiatry has been progressing rapidly. Although it has several disadvantages (e.g., relatively low spatial resolution and the possibility of shallow coverage in the depth of brain regions) compared with other functional neuroimaging techniques (e.g., functional magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography), fNIRS may be a candidate instrument for clinical use in psychiatry, as it can measure brain activity in naturalistic position easily and non-invasively. fNIRS instruments are also small and work silently, and can be moved almost everywhere including schools and care units. Previous fNIRS studies have shown that patients with schizophrenia have impaired activity and characteristic waveform patterns in the prefrontal cortex during the letter version of the verbal fluency task, and part of these results have been approved as one of the Advanced Medical Technologies as an aid for the differential diagnosis of depressive symptoms by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan in 2009, which was the first such approval in the field of psychiatry. Moreover, previous studies suggest that the activity in the frontopolar prefrontal cortex is associated with their functions in chronic schizophrenia and is its next candidate biomarker. Future studies aimed at exploring fNIRS differences in various clinical stages, longitudinal changes, drug effects, and variations during different task paradigms will be needed to develop more accurate biomarkers that can be used to aid differential diagnosis, the comprehension of the present condition, the prediction of outcome, and the decision regarding treatment options in schizophrenia. Future fNIRS researches will require standardized measurement procedures, probe settings, analytical methods and tools, manuscript description, and database systems in an fNIRS community.
PMCID: PMC3827961  PMID: 24294205
near-infrared spectroscopy; verbal fluency task; biological markers; early intervention; clinical outcome
3.  Prefrontal activation during inhibitory control measured by near-infrared spectroscopy for differentiating between autism spectrum disorders and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults☆ 
NeuroImage : Clinical  2013;4:53-63.
The differential diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) based solely on symptomatic and behavioral assessments can be difficult, even for experts. Thus, the development of a neuroimaging marker that differentiates ASDs from ADHD would be an important contribution to this field. We assessed the differences in prefrontal activation between adults with ASDs and ADHD using an entirely non-invasive and portable neuroimaging tool, near-infrared spectroscopy. This study included 21 drug-naïve adults with ASDs, 19 drug-naïve adults with ADHD, and 21 healthy subjects matched for age, sex, and IQ. Oxygenated hemoglobin concentration changes in the prefrontal cortex were assessed during a stop signal task and a verbal fluency task. During the stop signal task, compared to the control group, the ASDs group exhibited lower activation in a broad prefrontal area, whereas the ADHD group showed underactivation of the right premotor area, right presupplementary motor area, and bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortices. Significant differences were observed in the left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex between the ASDs and ADHD groups during the stop signal task. The leave-one-out cross-validation method using mean oxygenated hemoglobin changes yielded a classification accuracy of 81.4% during inhibitory control. These results were task specific, as the brain activation pattern observed during the verbal fluency task did not differentiate the ASDs and ADHD groups significantly. This study therefore provides evidence of a difference in left ventrolateral prefrontal activation during inhibitory control between adults with ASDs and ADHD. Thus, near-infrared spectroscopy may be useful as an auxiliary tool for the differential diagnosis of such developmental disorders.
•We examined the prefrontal function in 2 developmental disorders and HC using NIRS.•NIRS signals were assessed during a stop signal task (SST) and a verbal fluency task.•ASDs showed significantly smaller activation during SST than ADHD in left VLPFC.•NIRS is a useful biomarker for the differential diagnosis of ASDs and ADHD.
PMCID: PMC3842411  PMID: 24298446
Autism spectrum disorders; Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; Near-infrared spectroscopy; Inhibitory control; Stop signal task
4.  The development of agoraphobia is associated with the symptoms and location of a patient's first panic attack 
The place where a patient experiences his/her first panic attack (FPA) may be related to their agoraphobia later in life. However, no investigations have been done into the clinical features according to the place where the FPA was experienced. In particular, there is an absence of detailed research examining patients who experienced their FPA at home. In this study, patients were classified by the location of their FPA and the differences in their clinical features were explored (e.g., symptoms of FPA, frequency of agoraphobia, and severity of FPA).
The subjects comprised 830 panic disorder patients who were classified into 5 groups based on the place of their FPA (home, school/office, driving a car, in a public transportation vehicle, outside of home), The clinical features of these patients were investigated. Additionally, for panic disorder patients with agoraphobia at their initial clinic visit, the clinical features of patients who experienced their FPA at home were compared to those who experienced their attack elsewhere.
In comparison of the FPAs of the 5 groups, significant differences were seen among the 7 descriptors (sex ratio, drinking status, smoking status, severity of the panic attack, depression score, ratio of agoraphobia, and degree of avoidance behavior) and 4 symptoms (sweating, chest pain, feeling dizzy, and fear of dying). The driving and public transportation group patients showed a higher incidence of co-morbid agoraphobia than did the other groups. Additionally, for panic disorder patients with co-morbid agoraphobia, the at-home group had a higher frequency of fear of dying compared to the patients in the outside-of-home group and felt more severe distress elicited by their FPA.
The results of this study suggest that the clinical features of panic disorder patients vary according to the place of their FPA. The at-home group patients experienced "fear of dying" more frequently and felt more distress during their FPA than did the subjects in the other groups. These results indicate that patients experiencing their FPA at home should be treated with a focus on the fear and distress elicited by the attack.
PMCID: PMC3349583  PMID: 22494552
Place of first panic attack; Panic attack symptoms; Subtype of panic disorder; Agoraphobia

Results 1-4 (4)