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Brain activity buffers agains worsening anxiety

Illustration of the brain


Boosting activity in the brainís thinking and problem-solving centers may protect at-risk individuals from developing anxiety.

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A recent study by researchers at Duke University suggests that boosting activity in brain areas related to thinking and problem-solving may also buffer against worsening anxiety.

Using noninvasive brain imaging, the researchers found that people at-risk for anxiety were less likely to develop the disorder if they had higher activity in a region of the brain responsible for complex mental operations.

"These findings help reinforce a strategy whereby individuals may be able to improve their emotional functioning -- their mood, their anxiety, their experience of depression -- not only by directly addressing those phenomena, but also by indirectly improving their general cognitive functioning," said Ahmad Hariri, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke.

Results of the study may be a step towards tailoring psychological therapies to the specific brain functioning of individual patients.

The research was supported in part by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship.

Read more about this research in the NSF News From the Field story Brain activity buffers against worsening anxiety. (Date image taken: November 2017; date originally posted to NSF Multimedia Gallery: June 28, 2018)

Credit: Jonathan Lee, Duke University
 
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