TRANSDIAGNOSTIC DIMENSIONS OF ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION MODERATE MOTIVATION-RELATED BRAIN NETWORKS DURING GOAL MAINTENANCE
Advancing research on the etiology, prevention, and treatment of psychopathology requires the field to move beyond modular conceptualizations of neural dysfunction toward understanding disturbance in key brain networks. Although some studies of anxiety and depression have begun doing so, they typically suffer from several drawbacks, including: (1) a categorical approach ignoring transdiagnostic processes, (2) failure to account for substantial anxiety and depression comorbidity, (3) examination of networks at rest, which overlooks disruption manifesting only when networks are challenged. Accordingly, the present study examined relationships between transdiagnostic dimensions of anxiety/depression and patterns of functional connectivity while goal maintenance was challenged.
Participants (n = 179, unselected community members and undergraduates selected to be high/low on anxiety/depression) performed a task in which goal maintenance was challenged (color-word Stroop) while fMRI data were collected. Analyses examined moderation by anxiety/depression of condition-dependent coupling between regions of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) previously associated with approach and avoidance motivation and amygdala/orbitofrontal cortex (OFC).
Anxious arousal was positively associated with amygdala↔right dlPFC coupling. Depression was positively associated with OFC↔right dlPFC coupling and negatively associated with OFC↔left dlPFC coupling.
Findings advance the field toward an integrative model of the neural instantiation of anxiety/depression by identifying specific, distinct dysfunctions associated with anxiety and depression in networks important for maintaining approach and avoidance goals. Specifically, findings shed light on potential neural mechanisms involved in attentional biases in anxiety and valuation biases in depression and underscore the importance of examining transdiagnostic dimensions of anxiety/depression while networks are challenged.