Background: Pediatric anxiety disorders are linked to dysfunction in multiple functional brain networks, as well as to alterations in the allocation of spatial attention. We used network-level analyses to characterize resting-state functional connectivity (rs-fc) alterations associated with 1) symptoms of anxiety and 2) alterations in stimulus-driven attention associated with pediatric anxiety disorders. We hypothesized that anxiety was related to altered connectivity of the frontoparietal, default mode, cingulo-opercular, and ventral attention networks and that anxiety-related connectivity alterations that include the ventral attention network would simultaneously be related to deviations in stimulus-driven attention. Methods: A sample of children (n = 61; mean = 10.6 years of age), approximately half of whom met criteria for a current anxiety disorder, completed a clinical assay, an attention task, and rs-fc magnetic resonance imaging scans. Network-level analyses examined whole-brain rs-fc patterns associated with clinician-rated anxiety and with involuntary capture of attention. Post hoc analyses controlled for comorbid symptoms. Results: Elevated clinician-rated anxiety was associated with altered connectivity within the cingulo-opercular network, as well as between the cingulo-opercular network and the ventral attention, default mode, and visual networks. Connectivity between the ventral attention and cingulo-opercular networks was associated with variation in both anxiety and stimulus-driven attention. Conclusions: Pediatric anxiety is related to aberrant connectivity patterns among several networks, most of which include the cingulo-opercular network. These results help clarify the within- and between-network interactions associated with pediatric anxiety and its association with altered attention, suggesting that specific network connections could be targeted to improve specific altered processes associated with anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-238
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Psychiatry Global Open Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Enrichment analysis
  • Involuntary attention
  • Network neuroscience
  • Pediatric anxiety
  • Resting-state functional connectivity


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