Task-Dependent Brain Activity in Generalized Anxiety Disorder Determined By Bayesian Spatio-Temporal Single Case Model

  • Fereshteh Sadat Hosseinian Ghamsari Department of Biostatistics, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran.
  • Aliakbar Rasekhi Department of Biostatistics, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran.
  • Elham Faghihzadeh Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Zanjan University of Medical Sciences, Zanjan, Iran.
  • Hassan Farrahi Department of Psychiatry, Guilan University of Medical Sciences, Rasht, Iran.
Keywords: Bayesian spatio-temporal model; Functional magnetic resonance imaging; Generalized anxiety disorder; Emotional stimuli; BOLD response; Posterior probability map.


Introduction: Data obtained from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have a complex structure. Considering the special features of this type of data in analyses is of particular importance. Previous studies on generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) as a prevalent mental disorder using functional neuroimaging have had conflicting results. In this study, we apply a Bayesian spatiotemporal model to this type of data which considers both spatial and temporal dependence among regions which is one of the most essential features to consider.

Methods: In this single-subject study, we analyze data from a patient with GAD and a healthy participant. Both participants are 24-year-old women who are assigned an emotion reactivity task (matching neutral and negative facial expressions) inside a scanner. The spatial Bayesian variable selection method is used to detect blood oxygen level-dependent activation in fMRI data.

Results: Activation areas in neutral and negative facial expressions are provided for both participants by posterior probability map. The results of our study show a greater level of activity in the GAD participant in comparison to the healthy participant in responding to the negative matching task.

Conclusion: the GAD patient showed more neural activity in response to negative facial expressions than the healthy participant in brain regions related to emotional response in the areas of the frontal Pole, middle frontal gyrus, insular cortex, and frontal orbital cortex. Moreover, the inferior frontal gyrus in the patient with GAD showed more reaction to negative emotional stimuli.