Neural activity during self-referential working memory and the underlying role of the amygdala in social anxiety disorder

Hyung Jun Yoon, Jin Seong Kim, Yu Bin Shin, Soo Hee Choi, Seung Koo Lee, Jae Jin Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Self-referential processing, theory of mind, and working memory are distorted in social anxiety disorder (SAD). This study aimed to investigate characteristics of altered self-referential working memory processing and resting-state functional connectivity in patients with SAD. Twenty patients and 20 healthy controls underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging at resting-state and while performing a working memory task containing faces with self-referential positive or negative comments and three memory phases (encoding, maintenance, and retrieval). Task-related results were compared between groups and tested for correlations. Resting-state connectivity between amygdala subregions and regions showing a task-related difference was also compared between groups. Patients compared to controls showed augmented memory for the negative comments, hyperactivation of the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and temporo-parietal junction during encoding, and hypoactivation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and insula during retrieval. At resting-state, increased connectivity of amygdala subregions with multiple task-related regions was found in patients. These findings suggest that the encoding process in SAD is accompanied by altered involvement of self-referential processing and theory of mind, whereas the retrieval process reflects impaired cognitive control. These memory-related processing may be affected by predisposing resting-state hyperconnectivity with the amygdala, and may underlie a hypersensitivity to negative comments and post-event reflection in SAD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-147
Number of pages9
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Aug 3

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korean government (MEST) (No. NRF-2013R1A2A2A03068342 ). The authors would like to thank Mr. Se Young Kim in Severance Hospital for their technical support.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)


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