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Exposure therapy for pediatric irritability: Theory and potential mechanisms.


ABSTRACT: Pediatric irritability is prevalent and impairing, yet little is known about its pathophysiology and treatment. In this article, we build on our and others' previous work to posit core mechanisms of irritability operating across the brain, behavior, and environment. Specifically, we propose proximal processes that surround the symptomatology of irritability and are potential targets for an exposure-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for irritability that our group has developed. The heart of this model focuses on neurocognitive processes: youth's encoding of nonreward and threat stimuli, which involves prediction error signaling in the brain, and cognitive control in the context of frustration. Alterations in these processes are theorized to be central to chronic, severe irritability. Environmental responses to youth's symptom expression are also examined. Exposure-based CBT for irritability utilizes controlled, in vivo exposure to nonreward and threat stimuli with the aim to engage cognitive control and target top-down regulation of frustration. This intervention integrates selected parent management training techniques to target symptom reinforcement processes. Continued pathophysiological and treatment studies of irritability will not only refine our emerging understanding of the phenotype, but also inform broader questions on the brain and behavioral mechanisms of CBT efficacy.

SUBMITTER: Kircanski K 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6590706 | BioStudies | 2019-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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