About Careers MedBlog Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Vulnerability to Anxiety Caused by Neural Mechanisms

by Kathy Jones on February 10, 2011 at 6:51 PM
Font : A-A+

 Vulnerability to Anxiety Caused by Neural Mechanisms

The anxious brain during a fear conditioning task has been examined in a new research that provides insight into why some individuals may be more or less prone to anxiety disorders.

The study, published by Cell Press in the February 10 issue of the journal Neuron, reveals neural mechanisms that may contribute to resilience against pathological fear and anxiety. The findings may help to direct therapeutic strategies for individuals who suffer from chronic anxiety as well as strategies that could help "at risk" individuals avoid developing anxiety disorders.

Advertisement

Previous studies have implicated a brain structure called the amygdala in the acquisition and expression of conditioned fear, this occurring when a stimulus (the conditioned stimulus, CS) becomes associated with an aversive object or event (the unconditioned stimulus, UCS). Another brain region, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), has been shown in both animals and humans to help inhibit conditioned fear after extinction training, during which the CS is repeatedly presented without the UCS. However, it is not clear how certain personality characteristics, like a tendency or vulnerability towards anxiety, influence these mechanisms.

"We were interested in examining why it is that some of us can overcome the discrete fears and nonspecific anxiety that we experience in our lives more easily than others," explains senior study author, Dr. Sonia J. Bishop from the University of California, Berkeley. "Or, in other words, what differences in brain function might confer increased vulnerability for chronic fear and anxiety disorders?"
Advertisement

Dr. Bishop and colleagues performed a neuroimaging study to examine fear conditioning in human subjects who had been classified as having varying levels of "trait anxiety," a tendency to experience anxiety across a range of everyday situations. The researchers observed that subjects who had a high level of trait anxiety were more likely to have an enhanced amygdala response to CS fear cues and to show faster acquisition of learned "fear" of these cues. Individual differences in amygdala reactivity were independent of the second dimension of risk, this involving the vmPFC. Recruitment of this region during conditioned fear expression prior to extinction was linked with greater reduction in fear responses and was more pronounced in fear-resilient individuals.

The findings suggest that individual differences in amygdala and vmPFC function are independently associated with vulnerability to anxiety, with the amygdala potentially influencing the development of cue-specific fears (or phobias) and the vmPFC impacting the ability to downregulate both phasic fears and generalized anxiety. "An understanding of the neurocognitive mechanisms by which trait vulnerability to pathological anxiety is conferred may aid not only in explaining the variability in symptoms, but also in informing choice intervention and prediction of treatment response," concludes Dr. Bishop.

Earlier this month, Dr. Bishop attended an awards ceremony at NIH in recognition of her receipt of one of twelve prestigious Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists given to enable her further pursuit of this important line of research.





Source: Eurekalert
Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
What's New on Medindia
World AIDS Day 2022 - Equalize!
Test Your Knowledge on Sugar Intake and Oral Health
Test  Your Knowledge on Heart
View all
Recommended Reading
News Archive
Date
Category
Advertisement
News Category

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Anxiety Disorder Agoraphobia Aspergerīs Syndrome Stress Relief Through Alternative Medicine Hyperventilation Bereavement Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Xenophobia Tourette Syndrome Placebo Effects: Rare Insights 

Most Popular on Medindia

Nutam (400mg) (Piracetam) Find a Hospital Indian Medical Journals Blood Pressure Calculator Accident and Trauma Care A-Z Drug Brands in India Vent Forte (Theophylline) Blood - Sugar Chart Iron Intake Calculator Find a Doctor
This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use
×

Vulnerability to Anxiety Caused by Neural Mechanisms Personalised Printable Document (PDF)

Please complete this form and we'll send you a personalised information that is requested

You may use this for your own reference or forward it to your friends.

Please use the information prudently. If you are not a medical doctor please remember to consult your healthcare provider as this information is not a substitute for professional advice.

Name *

Email Address *

Country *

Areas of Interests