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Context: Few studies directly compare amygdala function in depressive and anxiety disorders. 43 Data from longitudinal research emphasize the need for such studies in adolescents. 44 Objective: To compare amygdala response to varying attention and emotion conditions among 45 adolescents with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) or anxiety disorders, relative to adolescents 46 with no psychopathology. 47 Design: Case-Control-Study. 48 Setting: Government Clinical Research Institute. 49 Participants: Eighty-seven adolescents matched on age, gender, intelligence, and social class: 26 50 with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD; 14 with and 12 without anxiety disorders), 16 with 51 anxiety disorders but no depression, and 45 with no psychopathology. 52 Main Outcome Measures: Blood oxygenated level dependent signal in the amygdala, measured 53 using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging. During imaging, participants viewed 54 facial expressions (neutral, fearful, angry, happy) while attention was constrained (afraid, 55 hostility, nose width ratings) or unconstrained (passive-viewing). 56 Results: Left and right amygdala activation differed as a function of diagnosis, facial expression, 57 and attention-condition both when comorbid MDD/anxiety patients were included and excluded 58 (group-by-emotion-by-attention interactions: p-values≤.03). Focusing on fearful-face-viewing 59 events, anxiety and MDD patients both differed in amygdala responses from healthy participants 60 and from each other during passive-viewing. However, both MDD and anxiety patients, relative 61 to healthy participants, exhibited similar signs of amygdala hyper-activation to fearful faces when 62 rating subjectively experienced fear. 63 Conclusions: Adolescent MDD and anxiety disorders exhibit common and distinct functional 64 neural correlates during face processing. Attention modulates the degree to which common or 65 distinct amygdala perturbations manifest in these patient groups, relative to healthy peers.


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Beesdo, K., Lau, J., Guyer, A. E., McClure-Tone, E. B., Monk, C. S., Nelson, E. E., Fromm, S. J., Goldwin, M.A., Wittchen, H-U., Leibenluft, E., Ernst, M., & Pine, D. S. (2009). Common and distinct amygdala-function perturbations in depressed vs anxious adolescents. Archives of General Psychiatry, 66(3), 275-285. DOI: 10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2008.545

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