Cognitive behavioural therapy attenuates the enhanced early facial stimuli processing in social anxiety disorders: an ERP investigation
- Journal Article
Rights / licenseCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 International
Background Previous studies of patients with social anxiety have demonstrated abnormal early processing of facial stimuli in social contexts. In other words, patients with social anxiety disorder (SAD) tend to exhibit enhanced early facial processing when compared to healthy controls. Few studies have examined the temporal electrophysiological event-related potential (ERP)-indexed profiles when an individual with SAD compares faces to objects in SAD. Systematic comparisons of ERPs to facial/object stimuli before and after therapy are also lacking. We used a passive visual detection paradigm with upright and inverted faces/objects, which are known to elicit early P1 and N170 components, to study abnormal early face processing and subsequent improvements in this measure in patients with SAD. Methods Seventeen patients with SAD and 17 matched control participants performed a passive visual detection paradigm task while undergoing EEG. The healthy controls were compared to patients with SAD pre-therapy to test the hypothesis that patients with SAD have early hypervigilance to facial cues. We compared patients with SAD before and after therapy to test the hypothesis that the early hypervigilance to facial cues in patients with SAD can be alleviated. Results Compared to healthy control (HC) participants, patients with SAD had more robust P1–N170 slope but no amplitude effects in response to both upright and inverted faces and objects. Interestingly, we found that patients with SAD had reduced P1 responses to all objects and faces after therapy, but had selectively reduced N170 responses to faces, and especially inverted faces. Interestingly, the slope from P1 to N170 in patients with SAD was flatter post-therapy than pre-therapy. Furthermore, the amplitude of N170 evoked by the facial stimuli was correlated with scores on the interaction anxiousness scale (IAS) after therapy. Conclusions Our results did not provide electrophysiological support for the early hypervigilance hypothesis in SAD to faces, but confirm that cognitive-behavioural therapy can reduce the early visual processing of faces. These findings have potentially important therapeutic implications in the assessment and treatment of social anxiety. Show more
Journal / seriesBehavioral and Brain Functions
Pages / Article No.
SubjectSocial anxiety disorder; Cognitive-behavioural therapy; P1; N170; Hyper-vigilance
MoreShow all metadata