Anxiety and Cerebral Blood Flow During Behavioral Challenge: Dissociation of Central from Peripheral and Subjective Measures

Joseph Zohar, Thomas R. Insel, Karen Faith Berman, Edna B. Foa, James L. Hill, Daniel R. Weinberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

To investigate the relationship between anxiety and regional cerebral blood flow, we administered behavioral challenges to 10 patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder while measuring regional cerebral blood flow with the xenon 133 inhalation technique. Each patient was studied under three conditions: relaxation, imaginal flooding, and in vivo (actual) exposure to the phobic stimulus. Subjective anxiety, obsessive-compulsive ratings, and autonomic measures (heart rate, blood pressure) increased significantly, but respiratory rate and Pco2 did not change across the three conditions. Regional cerebral blood flow increased slightly (in the temporal region) during imaginal flooding, but decreased markedly in several cortical regions during in vivo exposure, when anxiety was highest by subjective and peripheral autonomic measures. These results demonstrate that intense anxiety can be associated with decreased rather than increased cortical perfusion and that ostensibly related states of anxiety (eg, anticipatory and obsessional anxiety) may be associated with opposite effects on regional cerebral blood flow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-510
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of general psychiatry
Volume46
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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