Specificity of regional brain activity in anxiety types during emotion processing

Anna S. Engels, Wendy Heller, Aprajita Mohanty, John D. Herrington, Marie T. Banich, Andrew G. Webb, Gregory A. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The present study tested the hypothesis that anxious apprehension involves more left- than right-hemisphere activity and that anxious arousal is associated with the opposite pattern. Behavioral and fMRI responses to threat stimuli in an emotional Stroop task were examined in nonpatient groups reporting anxious apprehension, anxious arousal, or neither. Reaction times were longer for negative than for neutral words. As predicted, brain activation distinguished anxious groups in a left inferior frontal region associated with speech production and in a right-hemisphere inferior temporal area. Addressing a second hypothesis about left-frontal involvement in emotion, distinct left frontal regions were associated with anxious apprehension versus processing of positive information. Results support the proposed distinction between the two types of anxiety and resolve an inconsistency about the role of left-frontal activation in emotion and psychopathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)352-363
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2007


  • Anxiety
  • Anxious apprehension
  • Anxious arousal
  • Emotion
  • Stroop
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry

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  • Cite this

    Engels, A. S., Heller, W., Mohanty, A., Herrington, J. D., Banich, M. T., Webb, A. G., & Miller, G. A. (2007). Specificity of regional brain activity in anxiety types during emotion processing. Psychophysiology, 44(3), 352-363. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8986.2007.00518.x