Objective: The most prominent functional magnetic resonance imaging findings about social anxiety
disorder are increased activity in emotional regulation areas (amygdala, insula, hippocampus,
dorsal anterior cingulate cortex) and fear circuit, and altered activity in prefrontal cortex. This
study aims to investigate network abnormalities during resting state.
Method: Resting state functional magnetic resonance images of 21 drug-free patients with social
anxiety disorder and 21 healthy controls (matched on age, gender, and years of education) were
recorded. Resting state functional connectivity networks were obtained with independent component
analysis, and were compared by using the voxel based t-test between the two groups.
Results: Patients with social anxiety disorder displayed decreased intrinsic functional
connectivity in the anterior component of the salience network (left orbitofrontal cortex) and
increased intrinsic functional connectivity in the posterior component of the salience network
(left supramarginal gyrus).
Conclusion: Most of the studies about social anxiety disorder mainly focused on fear circuit and
emotional regulation areas by using anxiety provoking tasks or by using seed based analysis of
functional connectivity. By applying a whole-brain independent component analysis, we found altered
functional connectivity in the salience network, but no significant difference was found in the
fear circuit areas. Our results suggest that abnormal connectivity in the salience network might
play a crucial role in the neurobiology of social anxiety disorder.
Keywords: Social Anxiety Disorder, Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Salience Network,
Orbitofrontal Cortex, Supramarginal