Self-focused attention (SFA) and other-focused attention (OFA) are central maintenance factors of social anxiety. Tomita et al., Cognitive Therapy and Research 44:511–525, 2020 investigated brain activities when manipulating SFA and OFA during speech tasks, after controlling for social anxiety, using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) and eye-tracking. Compared with the control condition, the SFA condition demonstrated greater activity in the right frontopolar area (rFPA) and right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. In the OFA condition, relative to controls, activity was greater in the left superior temporal gyrus. We investigated whether the activity in these brain areas increased in healthy individuals in proportion to their social anxiety tendency without manipulating SFA and OFA. Thirty-nine participants performed speech tasks under a no attentional manipulation (no-instruction) condition and a control (looking at various places) condition. Brain activity was measured using NIRS (oxy-Hb responses), and eye movements were tracked. We found that higher social anxiety was associated with higher rFPA activity in the no-instruction condition compared to the control condition and that higher subjective SFA during the no-instruction condition with higher social anxiety was associated with increased rFPA between the no-instruction and control conditions. These results suggest that greater activity in the rFPA is a useful objective measure of SFA related to social anxiety during speech tasks.
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