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Anxiety Seems an Emotion Not to Become Too Worked up Over

207 Days ago
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anxiety-2015

LONDON: Anxiety acts like a sixth sense that could save your life, scientists believe after discovering that nervous people are more attuned to danger.For decades, research has suggested that being in a chronic state of alertness is bad for health because it causes cortisol - the stress hormone - to surge through the body, damaging cells.It was also believed that anxiety could lead to oversensitivity to threat signals that caused a permanent state of nervous excitement and may impair the body's ability to react quickly.But a study now suggests there is a benefit to a hyper-vigilant state. Anxiety seems to allow warning signals to quickly reach the regions of the brain that are responsible for action, triggering a surge of adrenalin and the 'fight or flight' response. In contrast, laid-back people are not so quick off the mark when they sense a threat.The researchers discovered the difference by monitoring the brain activity of 24 volunteers while they looked at pictures of people displaying levels of threatening or placid behaviour. The human brain is able to detect threats in these regions in a fast, automatic fashion, within just 200 milliseconds."Such quick reactions could have served an adaptive purpose for survival," said lead author Dr Marwa El Zein, from the French Institute of Health and Medical Research.The study, published in the online journal eLife, found anxiety shifts the 'neural coding' of threat to motor circuits, which produce action from sensory circuits that help recognise faces.

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