The authors of this paper outline their model of high trait anxiety and anxiety disorder which they associate with a particular pattern of functional network dysfunction. This involves increased functioning of the cingulo-opercular and ventral attention networks with decreased functioning of the fronto-parietal and default mode networks. These four networks are involved in error monitoring, stimulus-driven attention, top-down attentional control and emotional regulation, respectively. The authors suggest that this functional network model can be used to differentiate the pathology of anxiety disorders from other psychiatric illnesses such as major depression and that it may provide targets for new therapeutic strategies. Functional networks are collections of brain regions with strongly correlated activity both at rest and during cognitive tasks, where each network is believed to be associated with a different aspect of cognition.
Sylvester CM, Corbetta M, Raichle ME, Rodebaugh TL, Schlaggar BL, Sheline YI, Zorumski CF, Lenze EJ: Functional network dysfunction in anxiety and anxiety disorders. Trends Neurosci. [Epub ahead of print, June 1, 2012].