Transdiagnostic dimensions of anxiety: Neural mechanisms, executive functions, and new directions

Paul B. Sharp, Gregory A. Miller, Wendy Heller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Converging neuroscientific and psychological evidence points to several transdiagnostic factors that cut across DSM-defined disorders, which both affect and are affected by executive dysfunction. Two of these factors, anxious apprehension and anxious arousal, have helped bridge the gap between psychological and neurobiological models of anxiety. The present integration of diverse findings advances an understanding of the relationships between these transdiagnostic anxiety dimensions, their interactions with each other and executive function, and their neural mechanisms. Additionally, a discussion is provided concerning how these constructs fit within the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) matrix developed by the National Institutes of Mental Health and how they relate to other anxiety constructs studied with different methods and at other units of analysis. Suggestions for future research are offered, including how to (1) improve measurement and delineation of these constructs, (2) use new neuroimaging methods and theoretical approaches of how the brain functions to build neural mechanistic models of these constructs, and (3) advance understanding of the relationships of these constructs to diverse emotional phenomena and executive functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-377
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2015


  • Anxious apprehension
  • Anxious arousal
  • Executive function
  • Neural mechanisms
  • RDoC
  • Transdiagnostic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)


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