Transdiagnostic dimensions of anxiety and depression moderate motivation-related brain networks during goal maintenance

Jeffrey M. Spielberg, Gregory A. Miller, Stacie L. Warren, Bradley P. Sutton, Marie Banich, Wendy Heller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Conclusions: Findings advance the field toward an integrative model of the neural instantiation of anxiety/depression by identifying specific, distinct dysfunctions associated with anxiety and depression in networks important for maintaining approach and avoidance goals. Specifically, findings shed light on potential neural mechanisms involved in attentional biases in anxiety and valuation biases in depression and underscore the importance of examining transdiagnostic dimensions of anxiety/depression while networks are challenged.

Background: Advancing research on the etiology, prevention, and treatment of psychopathology requires the field to move beyond modular conceptualizations of neural dysfunction toward understanding disturbance in key brain networks. Although some studies of anxiety and depression have begun doing so, they typically suffer from several drawbacks, including: (1) a categorical approach ignoring transdiagnostic processes, (2) failure to account for substantial anxiety and depression comorbidity, (3) examination of networks at rest, which overlooks disruption manifesting only when networks are challenged. Accordingly, the present study examined relationships between transdiagnostic dimensions of anxiety/depression and patterns of functional connectivity while goal maintenance was challenged.

Methods: Participants (n = 179, unse-lected community members and undergraduates selected to be high/low on anxiety/depression) performed a task in which goal maintenance was challenged (color-word Stroop) while fMRI data were collected. Analyses examined moderation by anxiety/depression of condition-dependent coupling between regions of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) previously associated with approach and avoidance motivation and amygdala/orbitofrontal cortex (OFC).

Results: Anxious arousal was positively associated with amygdala虠bright dlPFC coupling. Depression was positively associated with OFC虠right dlPFC coupling and negatively associated with OFC虠left dlPFC coupling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)805-813
Number of pages9
JournalDepression and Anxiety
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014


  • Amygdale
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
  • Network
  • Orbitofrontal cortex
  • Transdiagnostic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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