Neural correlates of anticipation and processing of performance feedback in social anxiety

Carina Y. Heitmann, Jutta Peterburs, Martin Mothes-Lasch, Marlit C. Hallfarth, Stephanie Böhme, Wolfgang H.R. Miltner, Thomas Straube

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fear of negative evaluation, such as negative social performance feedback, is the core symptom of social anxiety. The present study investigated the neural correlates of anticipation and perception of social performance feedback in social anxiety. High (HSA) and low (LSA) socially anxious individuals were asked to give a speech on a personally relevant topic and received standardized but appropriate expert performance feedback in a succeeding experimental session in which neural activity was measured during anticipation and presentation of negative and positive performance feedback concerning the speech performance, or a neutral feedback-unrelated control condition. HSA compared to LSA subjects reported greater anxiety during anticipation of negative feedback. Functional magnetic resonance imaging results showed deactivation of medial prefrontal brain areas during anticipation of negative feedback relative to the control and the positive condition, and medial prefrontal and insular hyperactivation during presentation of negative as well as positive feedback in HSA compared to LSA subjects. The results indicate distinct processes underlying feedback processing during anticipation and presentation of feedback in HSA as compared to LSA individuals. In line with the role of the medial prefrontal cortex in self-referential information processing and the insula in interoception, social anxiety seems to be associated with lower self-monitoring during feedback anticipation, and an increased self-focus and interoception during feedback presentation, regardless of feedback valence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6023-6031
Number of pages9
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Anticipation
  • Feedback
  • Medial prefrontal cortex
  • Social anxiety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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