A recent Swedish study has found that CBT delivered over the Internet for 9 weeks may help reduce and remodel brain activity so that social anxiety is decreased. Social anxiety disorder, or SAD, is one of the most common types of mental disorders and it affects millions of people worldwide. Researchers have known for some time that the brain is a remarkable organ and it is highly adaptable. Studies in the past have shown that certain activities can increase brain volume and the neuronal activity in a given area but there are still questions about how this happens. The latest investigation by Linköping University researchers, in conjunction with researchers from other Universities in Sweden, looked at how brain activity and volume are affected by Internet available CBT.
During the CBT study on social anxiety and brain activity each study participant was given an MRI before the therapy and then again once therapy was complete. The researchers determined that patients who had SAD experienced a decrease in the volume and activity in the amygdala area of the brain after they went through CBT. The results of the study have been published in the Transitional Psychiatry journal. Doctoral student and study leader Kristoffer NT Månsson explained “The greater the improvement we saw in the patients, the smaller the size of their amygdalae. The study also suggests that the reduction in volume drives the reduction in brain activity.” 26 people participated in the study so it was small, but the results show promise and larger scale studies may be performed in the future.