News and Commentary Archive

Explore recent scientific discoveries and news as well as CLBB events, commentary, and press.

Mission

The speed of technology in neuroscience as it impacts ethical and just decisions in the legal system needs to be understood by lawyers, judges, public policy makers, and the general public. The Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior is an academic and professional resource for the education, research, and understanding of neuroscience and the law. Read more

Attention Bias to Emotional Faces Varies by IQ and Anxiety in Williams Syndrome

By Lauren M. McGrath, Joyce M. Oates, Yael G. Dai, Helen F. Dodd, Jessica WaxlerCaitlin C. Clements, Sydney Weill, Alison Hoffnagle, Erin Anderson, Rebecca MacRaeJennifer Mullett, Christopher J. McDougle, Barbara R. Pober, and Jordan W. Smoller | Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders | February 17, 2016

Abstract:

Individuals with Williams syndrome (WS) often experience significant anxiety. A promising approach to anxiety intervention has emerged from cognitive studies of attention bias to threat. To investigate the utility of this intervention in WS, this study examined attention bias to happy and angry faces in individuals with WS (N = 46). Results showed a significant difference in attention bias patterns as a function of IQ and anxiety. Individuals with higher IQ or higher anxiety showed a significant bias toward angry, but not happy faces, whereas individuals with lower IQ or lower anxiety showed the opposite pattern. These results suggest that attention bias interventions to modify a threat bias may be most effectively targeted to anxious individuals with WS with relatively high IQ.

Read the entire paper here.

Anxiety in Youth at Clinical High Risk for Psychosis

By Laina McAusland, Lisa Buchy, Kristin S. Cadenhead, Tyrone D. Cannon, Barbara A. Cornblatt, Robert Heinssen, Thomas H. McGlashan, Diana O. Perkins, Larry J. Seidman, Ming T. Tsuang, Elaine F. Walker, Scott W. Woods, Carrie E. Bearden, Daniel H. Mathalon, and Jean Addington | Early Intervention in Psychiatry | October 12, 2015

Abstract:

Aim

High rates of anxiety have been observed in youth at clinical high risk (CHR) of developing psychosis. In CHR, anxiety often co-occurs with depression, and there is inconsistent evidence on anxiety in relation to transition to psychosis. The aim of this study was to examine: (i) the prevalence of anxiety disorders in individuals at CHR; (ii) clinical differences between those with and without anxiety; and (iii) the association of baseline anxiety with later transition to psychosis.

Methods

The sample consisted of 765 CHR individuals and 280 healthy controls. CHR status was determined with the Structured Interview of Prodromal Syndromes, mood and anxiety diagnoses with the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Disorders, and severity of anxiety with the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale and Self-Rating Anxiety Scale.

Results

In the CHR sample, 51% met criteria for an anxiety disorder. CHR participants had significantly more anxiety diagnoses and severity than healthy controls. Anxiety was correlated to attenuated psychotic and negative symptoms in CHR and those with an anxiety disorder demonstrated more suspiciousness. CHR participants with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) exhibited more severe symptomatology than those without OCD. An initial presentation of anxiety did not differ between those who did or did not transition to psychosis.

Conclusions

In this large sample of individuals at CHR, anxiety is common and associated with more severe attenuated psychotic symptoms. Treatment not only to prevent or delay transition to psychosis but also to address presenting concerns, such as anxiety, is warranted.

Read the entire paper here.