Georgetown University Logo Advancement in technology seems to greatly benefit the health world. Just last week it was affirmed that multidetector computed tomography can identify the cause of ischemic strokes and here is another article that highlights the seeming benefits of fMRI. Neuroscientists from the Georgetown University Medical Center assert that brain scan with fMRI can predict the response of talk therapy among children with pediatric anxiety disorder.

Scientists claim that children and adolescents aged 8 to 16 years revealing fear when looking at happy faces on a screen inside an fMRI scanner have least success with an eight-week course of cognitive behavioral therapy. On the other hand, kids showing fear on looking at fearful faces report positive results to talk therapy. The analysis was initiated on 13 boys and 10 girls suffering from pediatric anxiety disorder. Once inside the fMRI machine, volunteers were made to view pictures of faces that expressed certain emotions strongly.

“Anxiety and fear are intrinsically linked, so how the brain’s fear center responds would naturally affect how anxiety disorders manifest. Indeed, the impact on their responses to therapy was impressive. Past studies have shown that many people react to fearful faces with fear themselves, but our most robust finding indicated that some anxiety disorder patients have more anxiety towards happy faces than fearful ones, and those patients were the least likely to respond to cognitive behavioral therapy,” remarked Steve Rich, a fourth year medical student and the lead author.

While scrutinizing the fMRI scans, experts laid hands on the amygdale possibly representing the emotion of fear. Differing responses observed in the amygdale were then compared with the outcomes from an eight-week course in cognitive behavioral therapy. It appeared that pre-treatment fMRI distinguishes patients responding positively to talk therapy alone and that in need of other therapy like medication. Investigators assume that patients with greater anxiety towards happy faces than fearful ones have a subtly different disorder. Though very much alike pediatric anxiety disorder, it may not be treated by cognitive behavioral therapy. It was concluded that pediatric anxiety disorder patients can be subjected to fMRI before beginning talk therapy.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego.