Patterns of regional brain activity differentiate types of anxiety

Wendy Heller, Jack B. Nitschke, Marci A. Etienne, Gregory A. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies have reported hemispheric asymmetries in brain activity in anxiety, but the direction of asymmetry has been inconsistent. A distinction between anxious apprehension (e.g., worry) and anxious arousal (e.g., panic), as types of anxiety, may account for some of the discrepancies. To test this proposition, the authors selected participants with self-reported anxious apprehension and experimentally manipulated anxious arousal Regional brain activity was examined by recording electroencephalograms during rest and during an emotional narrative task designed to elicit anxious arousal. Overall, anxious participants showed a larger asymmetry in favor of the left hemisphere than did controls. In contrast, during the task, anxious participants showed a selective increase in right parietal activity. The results support the hypothesis that anxious apprehension and anxious arousal are associated with different patterns of regional brain activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)376-385
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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