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Peer rejection powerfully predicts adolescent anxiety. While cognitive differences influence anxious responses to social feedback, little is known about neural contributions. Twelve anxious and 12 age-, gender- and IQ-matched, psychiatrically-healthy adolescents received ‘not interested’ and ‘interested’ feedback from unknown peers during a Chatroom task administered in a neuroimaging scanner. No group differences emerged in subjective ratings to peer feedback, but all participants reported more negative emotion at being rejected (than accepted) by peers to whom they had assigned high desirability ratings. Further highlighting the salience of such feedback, all adolescents, independent of anxiety levels, manifested elevated responses in the amygdala-hippocampal complex bilaterally, during the anticipation of feedback. However, anxious adolescents differed from healthy adolescents in their patterns of persistent amygdala-hippocampal activation following rejection. These data carry interesting implications for using neuroimaging data to inform psychotherapeutic approaches to social anxiety.


Author accepted manuscript (postprint) version of article published as:

Jennifer Y. F. Lau, Amanda E. Guyer, Erin B. Tone, Jessica Jenness, Jessica M. Parrish, Daniel S. Pine, and Eric E. Nelson. (January 2012). Neural responses to peer rejection in anxious adolescents: Contributions from the amygdala-hippocampal complex. International Journal of Behavioral Development 36: 36-44.