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Sleep-amount differentially affects fear-processing neural circuitry in pediatric anxiety: A preliminary fMRI investigation


Insufficient sleep, as well as the incidence of anxiety disorders, both peak during adolescence. While both conditions present perturbations in fear-processing-related neurocircuitry, it is unknown whether these neurofunctional alterations directly link anxiety and compromised sleep in adolescents. Fourteen anxious adolescents (AAs) and 19 healthy adolescents (HAs) were compared on a measure of sleep amount and neural responses to negatively valenced faces during fMRI. Group differences in neural response to negative faces emerged in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and the hippocampus. In both regions, correlation of sleep amount with BOLD activation was positive in AAs, but negative in HAs. Follow-up psychophysiological interaction (PPI) analyses indicated positive connectivity between dACC and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, and between hippocampus and insula. This connectivity was correlated negatively with sleep amount in AAs, but positively in HAs. In conclusion, the presence of clinical anxiety modulated the effects of sleep-amount on neural reactivity to negative faces differently among this group of adolescents, which may contribute to different clinical significance and outcomes of sleep disturbances in healthy adolescents and patients with anxiety disorders.

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