Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Severe Shyness? New Study Shows That Anxiety Is Likely A Long-lasting Trait

Date:
July 3, 2008
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
We all know people who are tense and nervous and can't relax. They may have been wired differently since childhood. New research indicates that the brains of those suffering from anxiety and severe shyness in social situations consistently respond more strongly to stress, and show signs of being anxious even in situations that others find safe.

We all know people who are tense and nervous and can't relax. They may have been wired differently since childhood.

Related Articles


New research by the HealthEmotions Research Institute and Department of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) indicates that the brains of those suffering from anxiety and severe shyness in social situations consistently respond more strongly to stress, and show signs of being anxious even in situations that others find safe.

Dr. Ned Kalin, chairman of the UW Department of Psychiatry and HealthEmotions Research Institute, in collaboration with graduate student Andrew Fox and others, has published a new study on anxious brains in the online journal PLoS One.

The study looked at brain activity, anxious behaviour, and stress hormones in adolescent rhesus monkeys, which have long been used as a model to understand anxious temperament in human children. Anxious temperament is important because it is an early predictor of the later risk to develop anxiety, depression, and drug abuse related to self medicating.

The researchers found that those individuals with the most anxious temperaments showed higher activity in the amygdala, a part of the brain that regulates emotion and triggers reactions to anxiety, such as the fight or flight response. These anxious monkeys had more metabolic activity in the amygdala in both secure and threatening situations.

"The brain machinery underlying the stress response seems to be always on in these individuals," said Kalin, "even in situations that others perceive as safe and secure."

Rhesus monkeys were graded on their anxious temperament, then exposed to situations that ranged from being secure at home with their cage-mates, to being alone, to being confronted by an unfamiliar person. This unknown person stood in front of the monkey presenting her facial profile to the monkey while avoiding any eye contact.

The adolescent monkeys received an injection of FDG, a radioactive substance similar to glucose that lights up the active parts of the brain when the monkeys are imaged with Positron Emission Tomography (PET). Whether in a secure environment or a more uncertain and possibly scary one, the nervous monkeys had more brain activity in the amygdala and surrounding "stress response" parts of the brain. The increased amygdala activity corresponded to higher levels of "freezing" behaviour, fewer vocalizations and higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the anxious monkeys.

When the monkeys were retested a year and a half later, the results were the same: the anxious monkeys still were more stressed out than their calmer peers when judged by the behavioural and physiological measures.

"We're looking for better ways to diagnose and treat mental illness," explains Kalin, about his ongoing work at HealthEmotions. "We're trying to understand how the brain influences mood, reactions to stress and physical health."

Psychiatrists have long known that an anxious temperament in childhood is a risk factor for developing anxiety disorders, depression and substance abuse. These new findings in young rhesus monkeys point to a brain mechanism that is present early in life that predisposes to this disposition.

The current research suggests that the reason is it is hard for some one with an anxious temperament to "calm down" is because they are wired in a way that tends to keep them tense and anxious.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Fox AS , Shelton SE, Oakes TR, Davidson RJ, Kalin NH. Trait-Like Brain Activity during Adolescence Predicts Anxious Temperament in Primates. PLoS One, 3(7): e2570 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002570

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Severe Shyness? New Study Shows That Anxiety Is Likely A Long-lasting Trait." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080701221437.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2008, July 3). Severe Shyness? New Study Shows That Anxiety Is Likely A Long-lasting Trait. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080701221437.htm
Public Library of Science. "Severe Shyness? New Study Shows That Anxiety Is Likely A Long-lasting Trait." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080701221437.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins