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01.12.2016 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2016 Open Access

BMC Psychiatry 1/2016

Group cognitive behavioral therapy modulates the resting-state functional connectivity of amygdala-related network in patients with generalized social anxiety disorder

BMC Psychiatry > Ausgabe 1/2016
Minlan Yuan, Hongru Zhu, Changjian Qiu, Yajing Meng, Yan Zhang, Jing Shang, Xiaojing Nie, Zhengjia Ren, Qiyong Gong, Wei Zhang, Su Lui



Amygdala is considered as the core pathogenesis of generalized social anxiety disorder (GSAD). However, it is still unclear whether effective group cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) could modulate the function of amygdala-related network. We aimed to examine the resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) of the amygdala before and after group CBT.


Fifteen patients with GSAD were scanned on a 3T MR system before and after 8 weeks of group CBT. For comparison, nineteen healthy control participants also underwent baseline fMRI scanning. We used bilateral amygdala as seed regions and the rsFC maps of the right and left amygdala were created separately in a voxel-wise way. Clusters survived two-tailed Gaussian Random Field (GRF) correction at p <0.05 (voxel z value >2.3).


Compared with baseline, patients with CBT showed significantly decreased connectivity of the left amygdala with the right putamen, the left dorsal medial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC) and the right dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC). Especially, the changes of the connectivity between the left amygdala and the dACC positively correlated with changes of the anxiety symptom in patients. Furthermore, in relative to controls, patients showed higher connectivity of left amygdala with dmPFC and dACC at baseline, while normal after CBT.


Short-term group CBT could down-regulate the abnormal higher connectivity of prefrontal-amygdala network, along with clinical improvement. This may provide a potential biomarker to monitor the treatment effect of CBT in GSAD patients.
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