Category: Adult Anxiety - Social
Previous research on cognitive reappraisal has shown the effects of reinterpretation of an emotionally evocative stimulus and psychological distancing on neural activities. While neural correlates of reinterpretation in social anxiety have been investigated in several studies, few studies have assessed the neural activity during psychological distancing. Recent research on longitudinal training in cognitive reappraisal revealed that psychological distancing has more effects in reduction of negative emotions than reinterpretation. We used fMRI to investigate neural responses to psychological distancing during self-observation in individuals with social anxiety. Furthermore, this study also aimed to examine the role of dispositional mindfulness in relation to the brain activity during emotion regulation task. High socially anxious participants (n = 16) and non-anxious controls (n = 19) were asked to give a video-recorded speech after completing the Five facet mindfulness questionnaire (FFMQ; Baer et al., 2006). Participants watched their speech video in either distancing condition in which they were instructed to objectively view the video clip using a detached third person perspective or a control condition where participants were instructed to simply look at and naturally respond to the stimuli. The neural responses during watching the video in each condition were scanned by fMRI. Two-way mixed design ANOVAs with repeated measurement of condition (group: high or low social anxiety; condition: distancing, control) were conducted on neural responses. These analyses yielded a significant interaction between group and condition on right orbitofrontal cortex activities (F (1, 33) = 15.03, p < .001; x = 36, y = 26, z = -14). The single main effects test indicated that non-anxious control group showed greater activation in this brain region during psychological distancing than high social anxiety group. High socially anxious individuals failed to show neural activities in the prefrontal cortex related to psychological distancing. On the other hand, high social anxiety group showed higher orbitofrontal activation in look condition. To examine the moderating effect of mindfulness traits, we conducted ANCOVAs with each subscale of the FFMQ as a covariate. After controlling for the score of non-judging of internal experience, the difference in just look condition disappeared. Thus, results indicated that the significant difference of OFC activity in look condition was moderated by the dispositional mindfulness of non-judging of internal experience.
Yoshihiro Kanai– Associate Professor, Tohoku Gakuin University, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan