Brain regions active in anxiety and performance determined
Disparate roles for prefrontal cortex subregions
Despite increasing interest in anxiety and psychological stress in daily life, little is known about neural correlates that underlie maintained psychological stress and their relationship with anxiety. In particular, the activation characteristics of lateral prefrontal subregions and their relationship with anxiety and cognitive performance under maintained psychological stress remain unknown. Dr Ryu Takizawa and Professor Kiyoto Kasai in Department of Neuropsychiatry, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo used near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), a noninvasive and “real-world” functional neuroimaging method, to investigate hemodynamic responses in wide areas of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the influence of anxiety under conditions of maintained stress induced by a continuous arithmetic task (2 sets, 15 min each) performed in a natural sitting posture. Although anxiety and performance are not directly correlated, the hemodynamic response in the medial portion of the lateral PFC (dorsolateral and frontopolar PFC) was significantly associated with anxiety, while hemodynamic responses in the ventrolateral PFC were associated with performance. This is the first study to suggest that PFC sub-regions play distinct roles in mediating anxiety and performance under maintained psychological stress and may lead to a better understanding of neural correlates for anxiety in everyday life.
This study was supported by grants from the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, and the “Development of biomarker candidates for social behavior” project of the Strategic Research Program for Brain Sciences sponsored by MEXT.
Ryu Takizawa, Yukika Nishimura, Ryosuke Tsunematsu, Hidenori Yamasue, Kiyoto Kasai,
“Anxiety and Performance: The Disparate Roles of Prefrontal Subregions Under Maintained Psychological Stress”,
Cerebral Cortex 2013.2.20. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bht036.