Previous functional neuroimaging studies found that the amygdala and other limbic regions may play a substantial role in social anxiety disorder (SAD). However, more widely distributed large-scale brain systems may be involved in cognitive processing in SAD patients when confronted with social situations. We employed functional MRI (fMRI) to investigate local brain activation of patients with SAD (n=6) and healthy controls (HC, n=9) during cognitive work. During fMRI scanning, subjects performed a social situation task using a block design paradigm in which the task and control trials were performed by turn. The patients with SAD showed higher anxiety levels during scanning in all social situations. The HC group showed greater common activation in the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), cuneus, occipital gyrus, and cerebellum. Although the patients with SAD showed activation patterns similar to that of the HC group, they showed comparatively significant decreased activation in the left cerebellum, left precuneus, and bilateral PCC. The present study demonstrates that SAD may involve dysfunction of a broad neuronal network including the limbic system, parieto-posterior cortex and cerebellum. The findings contribute to previous findings that revealed abnormal activities of emotion-related regions including the amygdala and insular cortex during facial perception in SAD.
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