EEG source activity during processing of neutral stimuli in subjects with anxiety disorders


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Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis

Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology

Subject: Behavioral Sciences, Biomedical Sciences & Nutrition, Life Sciences, Medicine, Neurosciences


ISSN: 0065-1400
eISSN: 1689-0035





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VOLUME 76 , ISSUE 1 (March 2016) > List of articles

EEG source activity during processing of neutral stimuli in subjects with anxiety disorders

Bartłomiej Gmaj / Piotr Januszko / Jan Kamiński / Ewa Drozdowicz / Maciej Kopera / Dorota Wołyńczyk-Gmaj * / Waldemar Szelenberger / Marcin Wojnar

Keywords : endogenous evoked potentials, anxiety disorders, enhanced electrophysiological activation, LORETA

Citation Information : Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis. Volume 76, Issue 1, Pages 75-85, DOI:

License : (CC BY 4.0)

Received Date : 18-January-2016 / Accepted: 23-March-2016 / Published Online: 25-July-2017



Anxiety disorders are a social problem due to their prevalence and consequences. It is crucial to explore the influence of anxiety on cognitive processes. In this study we recorded EEG activity from 73 subjects (35 patients, 38 controls, matched for age and education)during performance of the Continuous Attention Task. We used low resolution electromagnetic tomography (LORETA) for evaluation of mechanisms of impaired cognitive performance in anxiety disorders. Analysis showed that patients with anxiety disorders committed more errors than the controls, had a short latency of P300 and higher amplitude of ERPs at all steps of stimulus processing. Furthermore, we showed that there was a relationship between the scores of Hamilton Anxiety Scale and Beck Depression Inventory, and amplitudes and latencies of ERPs. The results of LORETA analysis showed that enhanced neural responses were found within circuits mediating visual information processing, sustained attention and anxiety. Also, we found higher current density within areas playing an important role in
the brain fear network – anterior cingulate and anterior part of insula. Electrophysiological neuroimaging showed greater recruitment of cognitive resources in anxiety disorders, evidenced by higher current density and activation of greater number of brain areas. Despite the strategy employed to compensate for cognitive problems, the anxiety patients did not achieve the same performance as controls. Present study demonstrates that anxiety disorders influence processing of neutral stimuli and this influence is observable at both behavioral and electrophysiological level. The data suggests instability of neural systems responsible for information selection, working memory, engagement and focusing of attention.

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