Anticipation and attentional control: neural responses associated with anxiety and depression

Infantolino, Zachary
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University of Delaware
Anticipating future events and ignoring task-irrelevant information in order to maintain task performance are aspects of everyday life that are impaired in anxiety and depression. The present research examined the unique impact of anxious apprehension, anxious arousal, and depression on reward and loss anticipation as well as attentional control. Brain activation associated with each type of psychopathology was measured by fMRI during a modified version of the monetary incentive delay task, which included an attentional control component. During reward and loss anticipation, both anxious apprehension and anxious arousal were associated with decreased activation in areas involved in reward learning and increased activation in areas that use previous trial information to guide future behavior. These two dimensions of anxiety were differentiated by brain activity associated with top-down attentional control during the attentional control portion of the task. In addition, depression was associated with increased reliance on previous trial information during reward and loss anticipation but was not associated with attentional control. Results suggest that these three related but distinct dimensions of psychopathology are associated with different patterns of brain activity during reward and loss anticipation as well as attentional control.