Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Shyness study examines how human brain adapts to stimuli

Date:
March 14, 2012
Source:
Vanderbilt University
Summary:
Shyness may be the result of deficits in two areas of the brain, new research finds.

Shyness may be the result of deficits in two areas of the brain.
Credit: StefanieB. / Fotolia

Shyness may be the result of deficits in two areas of the brain, new research from Vanderbilt University finds. Extremely shy or inhibited individuals are typically slow to acclimate to new people.

The study, recently published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, found that individuals who identified themselves as inhibited may experience habituation failure -- or the inability to adapt to new stimuli -- in the amygdala and the hippocampus regions of the brain.

The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine adults with either an inhibited or uninhibited temperament. Study participants were shown pictures of unfamiliar faces multiple times.

Individuals with an uninhibited temperament demonstrated habituation in both the amygdala and hippocampus. Their brain response increased when the faces were new but declined as they became familiar.

In contrast, individuals with an inhibited temperament failed to habituate across repeated presentations of faces, meaning familiar faces triggered the same brain response as the unfamiliar.

"This failure to habituate provides a novel neural mechanism for understanding the shy and cautious behavior that is characteristic of inhibited individuals," said Jennifer Urbano Blackford, Ph.D., assistant professor of Psychiatry and Psychology and lead author of the study.

"Individuals who familiarize more slowly may find encounters with new people overwhelming and thus avoid new social experiences, whereas those who adjust more quickly may be more likely to seek novel social experiences."

Blackford and colleagues think that this failure to habituate may be a key cause of social anxiety disorder, the persistent, chronic fear of a specific social situation. Social anxiety disorder is the second most common anxiety disorder and affects approximately one in 10 adults in the United States.

She is continuing her research by studying inhibited children to see if this brain deficit is present early in development.

Blackford conducted this research with Amil Allen, fourth-year Vanderbilt University School of Medicine student; Ronald Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Psychiatry; and Suzanne Avery, third-year Neuroscience doctoral student.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Vanderbilt University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. U. Blackford, A. H. Allen, R. L. Cowan, S. N. Avery. Amygdala and hippocampus fail to habituate to faces in individuals with an inhibited temperament. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 2012; DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsr078

Cite This Page:

Vanderbilt University. "Shyness study examines how human brain adapts to stimuli." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120314100041.htm>.
Vanderbilt University. (2012, March 14). Shyness study examines how human brain adapts to stimuli. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120314100041.htm
Vanderbilt University. "Shyness study examines how human brain adapts to stimuli." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120314100041.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping School Violence

Stopping School Violence

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A trauma doctor steps out of the hospital and into the classroom to teach kids how to calmly solve conflicts, avoiding a trip to the ER. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A tiny cyst in the brain that can cause debilitating symptoms like chronic headaches and insomnia, and the doctor who performs the delicate surgery to remove them. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Burning Away Brain Tumors

Burning Away Brain Tumors

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Doctors are 'cooking' brain tumors. Hear how this new laser-heat procedure cuts down on recovery time. Video provided by Ivanhoe
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