March 2020 AJP Editor Spotlight: Effect of CBT on Biased Semantic Network in Panic Disorder

Task-based fMRI imaging is particularly difficult
because it requires an investigator to administer something for patients to do while they’re
in the MRI scanner. And this has made it difficult for task-based
fMRI research to be used in a large multisite setting. Yang and colleagues report important new findings
that conduct such a task-based fMRI study in a multicenter treatment setting for the
diagnosis of panic disorder. And their study looks at neural correlates
of a process known as semantic priming. The important findings to emerge from this
study suggest that there are underlying problems in patients with panic disorder in the neural
correlates of semantic priming. Moreover, the findings suggest that with treatment
using cognitive-behavioral therapy, clinical improvements in the patient tend to parallel
neural improvements in these underlying correlates of this cognitive process. These findings are important not only because
they tell us something about panic disorder in particular, but they provide guidance for
other disorders where there are attempts to use task-based functional MRI to inform what
we know about treatment.

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