Amygdala, sACC Involved in Pathological Worry

Article excerpt

SAVANNAH, GA. -- Functional MRIs reveal neuroanatomical differences between normal worry and pathological worry in the elderly and those differences might help explain why late-life anxiety often proves difficult to treat.

The amygdala and the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sACC) seem to be involved in the functional neuroanatomy of late-life anxiety disorders, Dr. Carmen Andreescu of the University of Pittsburgh reported at the meeting.

The findings, based on fMRIs of 10 nonanxious elderly people and 8 elderly people with anxiety, suggest a biological substrate for the persistent and uncontrollable characteristics of pathological worry, she said. The subjects were asked to worry while they were in the scanner, then they were asked to suppress the worry and think of "something nice" for a minute.

In the nonanxious subjects, worry induction increased activation of the amygdala and decreased activation of the sACC. During worry suppression, the scans revealed decreased activation of the amygdala and increased activation of the sACC.

Not so for the elderly subjects with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). …