Processing of different types of social threat in shyness: Preliminary findings of distinct functional neural connectivity
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Current theory suggests that the processing of different types of threat is supported by distinct neural networks. Here we tested whether there are distinct neural correlates associated with different types of threat processing in shyness. Using fMRI and multivariate techniques, we compared neural responses and functional connectivity during the processing of imminent (i.e., congruent angry/angry face pairs) and ambiguous (i.e., incongruent angry/neutral face pairs) social threat in young adults selected for high and low shyness. To both types of threat processing, non-shy adults recruited a right medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) network encompassing nodes of the default mode network involved in automatic emotion regulation, whereas shy adults recruited a right dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) network encompassing nodes of the frontoparietal network that instantiate active attentional and cognitive control. Furthermore, in shy adults, the mPFC interacted with the dACC network for ambiguous threat, but with a distinct network encompassing nodes of the salience network for imminent threat. These preliminary results expand our understanding of right mPFC function associated with temperamental shyness. They also provide initial evidence for differential neural networks associated with shy and non-shy profiles in the context of different types of social threat processing.
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