Neuroimaging findings as predictors of treatment outcome of psychotherapy in anxiety disorders Journal Articles uri icon

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  • UNLABELLED: Anxiety disorders are the largest group of mental disorders and a leading cause of impairment, implicating in high costs for health systems and society. Effective pharmacological and psychological treatments are available, but a significant fraction of these patients does not respond adequately to these treatments. The objective of this study is to identify neuroimaging findings that could predict response to psychotherapy in anxiety disorders. METHODS: The authors reviewed psychotherapy clinical trials with neuroimaging conducted with patients with anxiety disorders. A systematic review was performed in MEDLINE database through PubMed, the Cochrane Collaboration's Clinical Trials Register (CENTRAL), PsycINFO and Thomson Reuters's Web of Science. RESULTS: From the studies included in this review, 24 investigated anxiety disorder patients, and findings in the amygdala, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC), anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and insula predicted response to psychotherapy in social anxiety disorder. Findings in ACC, hippocampus, insula, dlPFC, amygdala and inferior frontal gyrus (iFG) predicted response to psychotherapy in panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. LIMITATIONS: There was great heterogeneity between the included studies regarding neuroimaging techniques and the tasks performed during functional neuroimaging. CONCLUSION: Neuroimaging studies suggest that abnormalities in hippocampus, amygdala, iFG, uncus and areas linked with emotional regulation (dlPFC and ACC), predict a good outcome to psychotherapy in anxiety disorders.


  • Santos, Veruska Andrea
  • Carvalho, Dessana David
  • Van Ameringen, Michael
  • Nardi, Antonio Egidio
  • Freire, Rafael Christophe

publication date

  • April 2019