Subproject 9

Generalizing predictive patterns of treatment (non-)response (NR): from specific phobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder to the anxiety spectrum

Anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) are highly comorbid, which is reflected in partly overlapping neural structure and function. Although OCD was removed from the anxiety section in current classification systems, cognitive-behavioral treatments (e.g., exposure) for these disorders are quite similar. Commonalities, but also differences are hence poorly understood, including a neural systems level. SP9 aims to investigate the hypothesis to which extent neural structure and function related to treatment response can be generalized from specific phobia as a “model” disorder for pathological fear to other, more complex anxiety disorders and related conditions (social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder). Second, empirical evidence for the separate classification of OCD will be tested by comparing signatures and predictions between OCD and the anxiety spectrum. SP9 will utilize two retrospective datasets (SpiderVR-study: n = 174 spider phobia patients; EPOC-study: n = 116 OCD patients) in order to train predictive models which in turn will be replicated/cross-validated in the prospective cohort from the Research Unit. All datasets share a common neuroimaging backbone comprising neuroanatomic data, resting-state networks (EEG, fMRI), and task-based activity and connectivity which will be used to investigate generalization gradients. Results will bear the potential to better understand the phenomenon of NR from a transdiagnostic perspective and to help guide intervention decisions.


Prof. Dr. Kerstin Ritter

Principal Investigator

Marija Tochadse. M.Sc.

Research Associate