ISSN 2586-0151 (Print)
ISSN 2586-0046 (Online)
Volume 16, Number 2 (2/2020)
Original Article <page. 106-12 >

The Uncinate Fasciculus Sub-Tract Connecting Face-Specific Regions in Patients with Social Anxiety Disorder : A Preliminary Study

Bongsuk Kang, MD1;YoonJi Irene Lee, MS1;Jae-Yeon Lee, MA1; and Soo-Hee Choi, MD, PhD1,2;

1;Department of Psychiatry, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, 2;Department of Psychiatry, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea

Objective : Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterized by fear of social threat and exhibits limbic hyper-reactivity toward social stimuli such as emotional faces. A previous study identified the uncinate fasciculus (UF) sub-tract as particularly related to facial memory. To explore the white matter tract relating to face-specific brain regions, we investigated the UF sub-tract in SAD.

Methods : The diffusion tensor images of 22 patients with SAD and 20 healthy controls were analyzed with tractography. The UF sub-tract was delineated using the regions of interest of face patches in the anterior temporal lobe and the orbitofrontal cortex, and fractional anisotrophy (FA) and total number of streamlines (ST) were analyzed. We examined the group comparison of FA and ST of the UF sub-tract and correlations of FA and ST with the social anxiety symptoms such as the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale (LSAS), the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale (SIAS), the Social Phobia Scale (SPS) and the Fear of Negative Evaluation scale (FNE) in SAD.

Results : There were no group differences in FA and ST of the UF sub-tract. However, negative correlations were observed between ST of the right UF sub-tract and severity of social anxiety symptoms (LSAS, rs= -0.480, p=0.024; SIAS, rs=-0.580, p=0.005; SPS, rs=-0.590, p=0.004; FNE, rs=-0.675, p=0.001) in patients with SAD.

Conclusion : Although patients with SAD did not show quantitative abnormalities in the UF sub-tact connecting face-specific brain regions, this structure seems to play a role in the symptom severity of SAD.


Key words : Uncinate fasciculus;Social anxiety disorder;White matter sub-tract;Diffusion tensor imaging.

Anxiety and Mood

This Article