Anxious girls’ brains work harderJune 6th, 2012 - 4:36 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, June 6 (IANS) Scientists have figured out why the brains of anxious girls work much harder than those of boys, a discovery that could spur the identification and treatment of anxiety disorders.
The finding stems from an experiment in which college students performed a relatively simple task while their brain activity was measured by an electrode cap. Only girls who identified themselves as particularly anxious or big worriers recorded high brain activity when they made mistakes during the task.
Jason Moser, lead investigator from the Michigan State University, said the findings may ultimately help mental health professionals determine which girls may be prone to anxiety problems such as obsessive compulsive disorder or generalized anxiety disorder, the International Journal of Psychophysiology reports.
“This may help predict the development of anxiety issues later in life for girls,” said Moser, assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State. “It’s one more piece of the puzzle for us to figure out why women in general have more anxiety disorders,” he said.
The study is the first to measure the correlation between worrying and error-related brain responses in the sexes using a scientifically viable sample (79 female students, 70 males), according to a Michigan statement.
Participants were asked to identify the middle letter in a series of five-letter groups on a computer screen. Sometimes the middle letter was the same as the other four (”FFFFF”) while sometimes it was different (”EEFEE”). Afterward they filled out questionnaires about how much they worry.
Although the worrisome female subjects performed about the same as the males on simple portions of the task, their brains had to work harder at it. Then, as the test became more difficult, the anxious females performed worse, suggesting worrying got in the way of completing the task, Moser said.
“Anxious girls’ brains have to work harder to perform tasks because they have distracting thoughts and worries,” Moser said.
“As a result their brains are being kind of burned out by thinking so much, which might set them up for difficulties in school. We already know that anxious kids - and especially anxious girls - have a harder time in some academic subjects such as math,” Moser added.
- Fixed belief hampers learning from mistakes - Oct 02, 2011
- Anxiety tends to alter ill effects of depression - Apr 02, 2010
- Fear of anxiety makes worriers prone to depression - Dec 01, 2009
- Why some people may be more or less prone to anxiety disorders - Feb 10, 2011
- Anxiety fear 'puts above-average worriers at depression risk' - Dec 01, 2009
- Why women feel anxious, depressed and irate at that 'time of the month' - Feb 15, 2011
- Brain's 'fear' area doesn't increase anxiety but counters it: Study - Mar 10, 2011
- Why anorexics don't like eating - May 22, 2011
- Females become addicted to cocaine more easily - Mar 11, 2011
- Cat brain inspires model for superfast bio-computer - Apr 15, 2010
- People fail when stakes are high, study finds - May 10, 2012
- Source of happiness may lie in your gut - Jun 13, 2012
- Brain cells can play with complex computer images - Oct 28, 2010
- Scientists find female frogs call out during sex to excite lover - Apr 30, 2011
- New brain study may help predict anxiety, depression in young - Aug 12, 2010
Tags: anxiety disorders, anxiety problems, brain activity, brain responses, computer screen, electrode, female students, female subjects, fffff, generalized anxiety disorder, harder washington, international journal of psychophysiology, jason moser, letter groups, mental health professionals, michigan state university, obsessive compulsive disorder, piece of the puzzle, questionnaires, worriers