Selective reduction in amygdala volume in pediatric anxiety disorders: A voxel-based morphometry investigation

Michael P. Milham, Allison C. Nugent, Wayne C. Drevets, Daniel S. Dickstein, Ellen Leibenluft, Monique Ernst, Dennis Charney, Daniel S. Pine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

142 Scopus citations


Background: Significant controversy has emerged concerning pediatric anxiety disorders. Some researchers question the justification for diagnosing and treating pediatric anxiety disorders, owing to concerns about the inappropriate medicalization of social problems. Others note the importance of diagnosis and treatment, given that pediatric anxiety disorders represent a strong risk factor for serious adult mental disorders. We examine the neural correlates of pediatric anxiety disorders, to consider the validity of the categorization scheme used in recent treatment studies. Methods: Using inclusion criteria derived from recent treatment trials, we compared gray matter volume throughout the brain in children with and without anxiety. Morphometric analyses used optimized voxel-based morphometry, an automated method for examining structural changes throughout the brain. Results: Reductions in left amygdala gray matter volume were noted for patients with anxiety disorders relative to comparison subjects. Conclusions: We discuss implications of these findings for current controversies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)961-966
Number of pages6
JournalBiological psychiatry
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Amygdala
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Pediatric anxiety
  • Voxel-based morphometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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