The neurobiological basis of anxiety in children and adolescents

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The components of anxiety development in children and adolescents are reviewed. Abnormal orienting responses to perceived threats are among the earliest and most universal features of an anxiety diathesis. The effect of temperament on the control of children's attention can generate biases that influence the stages of social information processing such as encoding and interpretation of social and emotional cues. Behaviorally inhibited children interact with peers in socially non-effective ways further cementing distorted notions related to social learning, meanwhile internalizing notions of causality of this experience in relation to self. Neuroanatomical correlates of anxiety implicate the amygdala and related circuitry (hippocampus, parahippocampal regions, insula, medial prefrontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex) while molecular data support key pathways in γ-aminobutyric acid, serotonin, glutamate, dopamine as well as brain-derived neurotrophic factor and corticotrophin-releasing factor bioactive molecules. Neurophysiologic studies are consistent in isolating attentional orienting responses, threat appraisal and aspects of memory and learning as specific to mechanisms that underlie anxiety. A developmental framework for pediatric anxiety disorders is in an expectant stage, with breakthroughs expected in neuroimaging and molecular work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Biological Psychiatry
EditorsTobias Banaschewski, Luis Augusto Rohde
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2008

Publication series

NameAdvances in Biological Psychiatry
ISSN (Print)0378-7354
ISSN (Electronic)1662-2774

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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