Frontoparietal and Default Mode Network Contributions to Self-Referential Processing in Social Anxiety Disorder

Matthew L. Dixon, Craig A. Moodie, Philippe R. Goldin, Norman Farb, Richard G. Heimberg, Jinxiao Zhang, James J. Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterized by negative self-referential processing, which triggers excessive emotional reactivity. In healthy individuals, positive self-views typically predominate and are supported by regions of the default mode network (DMN) that represent self-related information and regions of the frontoparietal control network (FPCN) that contribute to metacognitive awareness and emotion regulation. The current study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine patterns of DMN and FPCN activation during positive and negative self-referential judgments in SAD patients (N = 97) and controls (N = 34). As expected, SAD patients demonstrated a striking difference in self-beliefs compared with non-anxious healthy controls, endorsing fewer positive traits and more negative traits. However, SAD patients and controls demonstrated largely similar patterns of DMN and FPCN recruitment during self-referential judgements. No significant group differences were observed. However, equivalence testing identified numerous regions demonstrating effect sizes that were not small enough to conclude that they were practically equivalent to zero, despite the nonsignificant null hypothesis test. These regions may be key targets to investigate in future studies using larger samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Beliefs
  • Clinical
  • Emotion
  • Prefrontal
  • Regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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