Cognitive-behavioral therapy effects on alerting network activity and effective connectivity in panic disorder.
Neufang Susanne,Geiger Maximilian J,Homola György A,Mahr Marina,Schiele Miriam A,Gehrmann Andrea,Schmidt Brigitte,Gajewska Agnieszka,Nowak Johannes,Meisenzahl-Lechner Eva,Pham Mirko,Romanos Marcel,Akhrif Atae,Domschke Katharina
European archives of psychiatry and clinical neuroscience
Given the particular relevance of arousal and alerting in panic disorder (PD), here the alerting network was investigated (1) contrasting patients with PD and healthy controls, (2) as a function of anxiety sensitivity constituting a dimensional measure of panic-related anxiety, and (3) as a possible correlate of treatment response. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), 45 out-patients with PD (f = 34) and 51 matched healthy controls were investigated for brain activation patterns and effective connectivity (Dynamic Causal Modeling, DCM) while performing the Attention Network Task (ANT). Anxiety sensitivity was ascertained by the Anxiety Sensitivity Index (ASI). Forty patients and 48 controls were re-scanned after a 6 weeks cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT) or an equivalent waiting time, respectively. In the alerting condition, patients showed decreased activation in fronto-parietal pathways including the middle frontal gyrus and the superior parietal lobule (MFG, SPL). In addition, ASI scores were negatively correlated with connectivity emerging from the SPL, the SFB and the LC and going to the MFG in patients but not in healthy controls. CBT resulted in an increase in middle frontal and parietal activation along with increased connectivity going from the MFG to the SPL. This change in connectivity was positively correlated with reduction in ASI scores. There were no changes in controls. The present findings point to a pathological disintegration of the MFG in a fronto-parietal pathway in the alerting network in PD which was observed to be reversible by a successful CBT intervention.