SPECT zooms in on causes of social anxiety disorder

Using brain SPECT, Dutch researchers found abnormalities in the brains of individuals with symptoms of social anxiety disorder, a condition that affects an estimated 15 million adults in the U.S.

Dr. Nic J.A. van der Wee and colleagues at Leiden University in the Netherlands used a binding radioactive compound as a tracer to visualize dopamine and serotonin transporters in the brain.

Twelve patients diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and 12 healthy controls underwent the procedure. In the patients with social anxiety disorder, SPECT revealed modified uptake activity in the thalamus, midbrain, and pons, areas known to be acted upon by serotonin, and in the striatum, an area known to be acted upon by dopamine.

Findings underscored the neurophysiological component of social anxiety (J Nucl Med 2008;49[5]:757-763).

-By H.A. Abella