Feelings of anxiety. Nature versus nurture. Don”t you love it when science proves we can genetically blame our parents for the not-so-sunny sides of our personalities? For you worry-warts, you can thank the family for your anxious ways. Researchers were able to pinpoint increased activity in two brain regions of young anxious monkeys: the hippocampus and the amygdala.
Because humans are genetically similar to monkeys, the scientists hypothesize the same regions of the brain are activated in young children during stress as well. Ultimately, not only could this discovery help the medical community proactively diagnose children with anxiety, but also it may enable early intervention.
FYI Quick Tips: What Happens In Our Brain When We Are Anxious?
• The amygdala is known for simultaneously being the and pleasure sensor in our brain. Fear and pleasure tickling the same parts of our brain? Maybe that”s why love is so scary.
• The hippocampus on the other hand plays a role in processing memories and emotions. The hippocampus is activated during anxiety, however science has yet to unlock exactly why this is true. Perhaps, we use our memory to process anxious moments.
• When we are afraid, we first detect something that makes us scared and then our brains use our memory to help us respond adequately to the stressor. When we are anxious, we can”t necessarily point to what is making us “feel” anxiety, but we can usually point to fear. You can point to the lion and say you are scared the lion is going to eat you. Anxiety is a “feeling” and often times there is not one particular cause for us to feel anxious.