Li D, Chokka P, Tibbo P
J Psychiatry Neurosci 2001 May;26(3):190-202
Our objective was to examine the neurobiology of social phobia from the perspectives of basic sciences, genetics, immunology, neuroendocrinology, neurotransmission and neuroimaging and to provide an integrated understanding of social phobia in the framework of a hypothetical neural circuit. Family and twin studies provide evidence that social phobia is heritable with significant genetic influence, and molecular genetics offers possibilities in understanding the nature of the trait that is transmitted. The biologic distinctiveness of social phobia from anxiety disorders and physiological validation of differences between generalized and discrete social phobia subtypes have been implicated in genetic, naturalistic and chemical challenge studies. Evidence of specific dysfunction of dopaminergic, serotonergic, noradrenergic and GABAergic (gamma-aminobutyric acid) neurotransmitter systems has been presented in animal models, challenge studies and treatment investigations. Preliminary neuroimaging research supports previous studies suggesting striatal dopaminergic dysfunction in social phobia and suggests the importance of functional circuits. A neural circuit involving the striatum, thalamus, amygdala and cortical structures may provide a framework for integrating much of the current knowledge on the neurobiology of social phobia.