Multiple risk factors that may contribute to the development and severity of pediatric anxiety disorders, one of which is dimensional overcontrol. Overcontrol is a constellation of characteristics including heightened performance monitoring, inflexibility, perfectionism and aversion to making mistakes. In this study, we examined overcontrol in children with anxiety disorders and tested whether the underlying dimension of overcontrol specifically explains altered brain response to errors in pediatric anxiety disorders. Parent-reported scores of child overcontrol were collected in a sample of children (ages 8–12 years) with (n = 35) and without (n = 34) anxiety disorders and the relationship of overcontrol and anxiety symptoms to neural responding to errors during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was examined. Results indicated childhood overcontrol was elevated in pediatric anxiety disorders and was significantly associated with anxiety severity, even when controlling for comorbid depression and ADHD. Additionally, overcontrol was associated with reduced neural response to errors versus correct responses in the bilateral dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) and insula, even when controlling for anxiety symptoms. Overcontrol may serve as an underlying mechanism associated with clinical pediatric anxiety that demonstrates significant associations with aberrant neural error responding. Overcontrol may be an underlying mechanism contributing to pediatric anxiety that could be targeted for early intervention.
- Pediatric anxiety
- Performance monitoring