White-matter correlates of anxiety: The contribution of the corpus-callosum to the study of anxiety and stress-related disorders

Rotem Saar-Ashkenazy, Jonathan Guez, Yael Jacob, Ronel Veksler, Jonathan E. Cohen, Ilan Shelef, Alon Friedman, Mony Benifla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Traumatic stress has been associated with increased risk for brain alterations and development of anxiety disorders. Studies conducted in posttraumatic patients have shown white-mater volume and diffusion alterations in the corpus-callosum. Decreased cognitive performance has been demonstrated in acute stress disorder and posttraumatic patients. However, whether cognitive alterations result from stress related neuropathology or reflect a predisposition is not known. In the current study, we examined in healthy controls, whether individual differences in anxiety are associated with those cognitive and brain alterations reported in stress related pathologies. Methods: Twenty healthy volunteers were evaluated for anxiety using the state-trait inventory (STAI), and were tested for memory performance. Brain imaging was employed to extract volumetric and diffusion characteristics of the corpus-callosum. Results: Significant correlations were found between trait anxiety and all three diffusion parameters (fractional-anisotropy, mean and radial-diffusivity). Associative-memory performance and corpus-callosum volume were also significantly correlated. Conclusion: We suggest that cognitive and brain alterations, as tested in the current work and reported in stress related pathologies, are present early and possibly persist throughout life. Our findings support the hypothesis that individual differences in trait anxiety predispose individuals towards negative cognitive outcomes and brain alterations, and potentially to stress related disorders.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere1955
Pages (from-to)e1955
JournalInternational Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2023


  • Anxiety
  • Anxiety Disorders/diagnostic imaging
  • Brain/diagnostic imaging
  • Corpus Callosum/pathology
  • Humans
  • PTSD
  • White Matter/diagnostic imaging
  • anxiety/anxiety disorders
  • corpus-callosum
  • trait anxiety

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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