Category: Child / Adolescent - Anxiety

Symposium

Symposium 28 - Biomarkers and Mechanisms of Anxiety in Autism: Implications for Assessment and Behavioral Interventions

Friday, November 17
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Location: Sapphire Ballroom B, Level 4, Sapphire Level

Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorders | Anxiety
Presentation Type: Symposium

Approximately 40% of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) exhibit clinically significant anxiety. While CBT is a promising treatment for anxiety in ASD (Sukhodolsky et al., 2013), little is known about its mechanisms or predictors of positive response to treatment.  The development of biomarkers of anxiety in ASD is an important requirement for testing neural mechanisms of CBT for anxiety in autism as well as for developing novel, neuroscience-based interventions. Functional neuroimaging studies provide initial evidence that anxiety in ASD is marked by an overactive amygdala response to threat (Kleinhans et al., 2010) paired with hypoactive vlPFC and vmPFC during emotion regulation (Pitskel et al., 2015).  Anxiety in ASD is likely associated with aberrant fear circuit activity/connectivity, common across anxiety disorders, and unique neural mechanisms conferred by the social deficits that distinguish ASD. This symposium brings together leading experts in the areas of treatment and neural mechanisms of anxiety in ASD. 1) Denis Sukhodolsky will discuss the results of a study that includes collecting fMRI data with tasks of emotion regulation and social perception before and after CBT for anxiety in ten children with ASD. Reduction of anxiety after CBT was paralleled by the enhanced activation in the emotion regulation circuitry consisting of the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and insula. The results represent one of the very first efforts to examine neural mechanisms of CBT for anxiety in ASD. 2) Michael Crowley will present results of an EEG study using an innovative task that disentangles the elements of threat processing. Using evoked response potentials, Dr. Crowley demonstrated intact threat detection but abnormal neural mechanisms of threat reappraisal in adolescents with ASD. 3) Nick Top will present an eye-tracking study in a large sample of adults with ASD and matched samples of individuals with anxiety and typically developing controls. Participants with ASD showed elevated psychophysiological arousal even above that of other anxious adults, including increased threat attribution for sensory experiences. 4) Jeff Wood will discuss application of the individual differences approach to the understanding of anxiety in children with ASD. Using cluster analysis in a sample of 196 children with ASD he showed that high trait anxiety occurred either in the presence of dysregulation and low social motivation, or in the context of executive dysfunction but relatively intact social motivation. Megan Tudor will discuss how these presentations contribute to the overarching goal of sharpening the focus of CBT interventions for anxiety in ASD on the mechanisms that can reduce anxiety and ameliorate its underlying pathophysiology.

Learning Objectives:

Denis G. Sukhodolsky

Associate Professor
Yale Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine

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Megan E. Tudor

Assistant Clinical Professor
MIND Institute, University of California, Davis

Presentation(s):

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    Denis G. Sukhodolsky

    Associate Professor
    Yale Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine

    Presentation(s):

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    Michael J. Crowley

    Assistant Professor
    Yale Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine

    Presentation(s):

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    Nicholas Top

    Graduate Student
    Brigham Young University

    Presentation(s):

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    Jeffrey J. Wood

    Professor
    UCLA

    Presentation(s):

    Send Email for Jeffrey Wood


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