Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is marked by uncontrollable, persistent worry and exaggerated response to uncertainty. Here, we review and summarize the findings from the GAD literature that employs functional neuroimaging methods. In particular, the present review focuses on task-based blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies. We find that select brain regions often regarded as a part of a corticolimbic circuit (e.g., amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex, prefrontal cortex) are consistently targeted for a priori hypothesis-driven analyses, which, in turn, shows varying degrees of abnormal BOLD responsivity in GAD. Data-driven whole-brain analyses show the insula and the hippocampus, among other regions, to be affected by GAD, depending on the task used in each individual study. Overall, while the heterogeneity of the tasks and sample size limits the generalizability of the findings thus far, some promising convergence can be observed in the form of the altered BOLD responsivity of the corticolimbic circuitry in GAD.
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