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The quest for biological correlates of social phobia: an interim assessment

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Objective: The primary goal of this review was to assess critically the literature concerning the ongoing search for possible biological correlates of social phobia.

Methods: In addition to manual searches, Medline, Current Contents and Psych Info databases were searched for relevant publications.

Results: On the evidence of an extensive body of research, so far biological correlates of social phobia remain elusive. Furthermore, the majority of studies reveal by default that the neurobiological functioning of social phobics is very much like that of normal control subjects.

Conclusion: The conceptual and methodological foundations underpinning the current research programme are discussed critically. Its main weaknesses were found to be: lack of theory to guide research and aid the interpretation of results, static comparisons between subject groups and analysis oblivious to great individual variations. Possibilities of alternative approaches to study the neurobiology of social phobia are raised. Among others, continuous and situation-specific measurement, subjects used as their own controls and neurobiological correlates of clinical improvement following psychotherapy are considered.

Keywords: neurobiology; social phobia

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: Fernand-Seguin Research Centre, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Publication date: April 1, 2001

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