Background The observer perspective causes patients with social anxiety disorder (SAD) to excessively inspect their performance and appearance. This study aimed to investigate the neural basis of distorted self-face recognition in non-social situations in patients with SAD. Methods Twenty patients with SAD and 20 age- and gender-matched healthy controls participated in this fMRI study. Data were acquired while participants performed a Composite Face Evaluation Task, during which they had to press a button indicating how much they liked a series of self-faces, attractively transformed self-faces, and attractive others’ faces. Results Patients had a tendency to show more favorable responses to the self-face and unfavorable responses to the others’ faces compared with controls, but the two groups’ responses to the attractively transformed self-faces did not differ. Significant group differences in regional activity were observed in the middle frontal and supramarginal gyri in the self-face condition (patients < controls); the inferior frontal gyrus in the attractively transformed self-face condition (patients > controls); and the middle frontal, supramarginal, and angular gyri in the attractive others’ face condition (patients > controls). Most fronto-parietal activities during observation of the self-face were negatively correlated with preference scores in patients but not in controls. Conclusion Patients with SAD have a positive point of view of their own face and experience self-relevance for the attractively transformed self-faces. This distorted cognition may be based on dysfunctions in the frontal and inferior parietal regions. The abnormal engagement of the fronto-parietal attentional network during processing face stimuli in non-social situations may be linked to distorted self-recognition in SAD.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Clinical Neurology
- Cognitive Neuroscience