Threat and Attention in Adolescent Anxiety

Project: Research project

Project Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The goal of this Research Career Award submission is to train the applicant in the use of neuroimaging technology to study the attentional mechanisms that underlie psychopathology in children. The applicant would like to build on her current training in temperament research and psychophysiology to examine affective and attentional processing in socially phobic adolescents and temperamentally shy adolescents at risk for social phobia. The training and mentoring provided through this grant will allow the applicant to work as part of a multidisciplinary research team, acting as a "bridge" between developmentalists and experts in psychopathology and imaging. This will prepare the applicant for an independent research career. Currently, there is a great deal of interest in the functional and structural relations between affective and attentional mechanisms. A growing literature indicates that anxious individuals show an attentional bias for potentially threatening stimuli, which may play a role in the etiology and maintenance of anxious states. A second literature has noted that children temperamentally predisposed to shyness show an increased risk for anxiety disorders, particularly social phobia. In each literature, work has implicated variations in amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) activity in shaping individual differences in both attentional biases and affective experience. There is currently very little work addressing these issues in children and adolescents. This study will bring together disparate literatures to fill the current knowledge gap by tracing the neural underpinnings of affective processing and attentional bias in both socially phobic and temperamentally at-risk adolescents, using a face rating and attention task. This training grant would take advantage of the presence of both a disordered and at-risk subject population to begin to examine a central question in development. Namely, the applicant will use behavioral and neuroimaging measures to examine and perhaps help explain differing developmental outcomes given shared risk factors. Recent research has shown that anxiety disorders are very prevalent in adolescent populations and that the early appearance of these disorders can affect functioning into adulthood. Work, such as this proposed research program, will help contribute to attempts to treat and prevent anxiety in adolescents. [unreadable]
Effective start/end date9/5/068/31/10


  • National Institute of Mental Health: $140,660.00
  • National Institute of Mental Health: $141,673.00
  • National Institute of Mental Health: $136,086.00


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