Current Psychiatry Reports

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 197–202 | Cite as

Diffusion Tensor Imaging in Anxiety Disorders

  • Elliot Ayling
  • Moji Aghajani
  • Jean-Paul Fouche
  • Nic van der Wee


Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) can be used to examine the structural integrity of regional white matter and to map white matter tracts. DTI studies have been performed in several psychiatric disorders, especially in those for which a developmental or a neuropsychiatric component was postulated. Thus far, the use of DTI has been very limited in panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder, and somewhat more extensive in post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. In most anxiety disorders, the results of DTI studies are in line with other structural and functional MRI findings and can be interpreted within the frameworks of existing models for the neurocircuitry of the various disorders. DTI findings could further enrich neurobiological models for anxiety disorders, although replication is often warranted, and studies in pediatric populations are lagging behind remarkably.


Diffusion tensor imaging DTI Anxiety disorders Neurocircuitry Panic disorder Social anxiety disorder Generalized anxiety disorder Post-traumatic stress disorder Obsessive-compulsive disorder Internalizing disorders Trait anxiety 



This review was supported through a EU Marie Curie International Staff Exchange Scheme grant for the European South African Research Network in Anxiety Disorders (EUSARNAD) (PIRSES-GA-2010-269213), and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research–National Initiative Brain and Cognition (NIBC) project grants no. 056-25-010 and no. 056-23-011.


No potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article were reported.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elliot Ayling
    • 1
  • Moji Aghajani
    • 2
  • Jean-Paul Fouche
    • 3
    • 4
  • Nic van der Wee
    • 5
  1. 1.Leiden University Medical CenterLeidenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryCurium-Leiden University Medical CenterOegstgeestThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Human Biology and Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  4. 4.Department of PsychiatryStellenbosch UniversityCape TownSouth Africa
  5. 5.Department of Psychiatry and Leiden Institute for Brain and CognitionLeiden University Medical CenterLeidenThe Netherlands

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