A Neurobehavioral Mechanism Linking Behaviorally Inhibited Temperament and Later Adolescent Social Anxiety Article

Buzzell, GA, Troller-Renfree, SV, Barker, TV et al. (2017). A Neurobehavioral Mechanism Linking Behaviorally Inhibited Temperament and Later Adolescent Social Anxiety . JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PSYCHIATRY, 56(12), 1097-1105. 10.1016/j.jaac.2017.10.007

cited authors

  • Buzzell, GA; Troller-Renfree, SV; Barker, TV; Bowman, LC; Chronis-Tuscano, A; Henderson, HA; Kagan, J; Pine, DS; Fox, NA



  • Objective Behavioral inhibition (BI) is a temperament identified in early childhood that is a risk factor for later social anxiety. However, mechanisms underlying the development of social anxiety remain unclear. To better understand the emergence of social anxiety, longitudinal studies investigating changes at behavioral neural levels are needed. Method BI was assessed in the laboratory at 2 and 3 years of age (N = 268). Children returned at 12 years, and an electroencephalogram was recorded while children performed a flanker task under 2 conditions: once while believing they were being observed by peers and once while not being observed. This methodology isolated changes in error monitoring (error-related negativity) and behavior (post-error reaction time slowing) as a function of social context. At 12 years, current social anxiety symptoms and lifetime diagnoses of social anxiety were obtained. Results Childhood BI prospectively predicted social-specific error-related negativity increases and social anxiety symptoms in adolescence; these symptoms directly related to clinical diagnoses. Serial mediation analysis showed that social error-related negativity changes explained relations between BI and social anxiety symptoms (n = 107) and diagnosis (n = 92), but only insofar as social context also led to increased post-error reaction time slowing (a measure of error preoccupation); this model was not significantly related to generalized anxiety. Conclusion Results extend prior work on socially induced changes in error monitoring and error preoccupation. These measures could index a neurobehavioral mechanism linking BI to adolescent social anxiety symptoms and diagnosis. This mechanism could relate more strongly to social than to generalized anxiety in the peri-adolescent period.

publication date

  • December 1, 2017

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 1097

end page

  • 1105


  • 56


  • 12