Brain Signals Reflect Social Anxiety And Performance Fears In Asd

Tamara Rosen

Graduate student in Clinical Psychology

Stony Brook University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Approximately 40 percent of youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are diagnosed with a co-occurring anxiety disorder.  Social anxiety is a common presenting problem for these youth.

Youth with ASD and increased social anxiety have heightened threat sensitivity, particularly in relation to performance fears, as measured by a brain signal response called the error-related negativity (ERN), which measures response to errors. The threat sensitivity-performance fears association remained even after controlling for anxiety symptoms other than social fearfulness. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Findings will help guide professionals to more specific diagnosis and better treatment strategies for co-occurring anxiety symptoms experienced by many with ASD. Future studies should investigate the unique ways in which youth with autism experience and display anxiety, and see if the ERN can help us to better understand those experiences. Thank you for your contribution to the community.

Tamara E. Rosen, Matthew D. Lerner. Error-related brain activity and anxiety symptoms in youth with autism spectrum disorder. Autism Research, 2017; DOI: 1002/aur.1898

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