Researchers continue to make headway in uncovering what’s behind the development of anxiety disorders with a new Stanford University study published in November. The study identifies important differences in the brains of children with relatively high anxiety levels.
The differences are found in the amygdala, which is the area of the brain associated with emotional regulation and perception. The researchers found that of the 76 children aged 7 to 9, those who were anxious but not clinically so had significantly larger and more connected amygdalas than their peers who were not anxious.
According to Vinod Menon, senior author of the study, adults with anxiety disorders also have larger and more connected amygdalas than average, although it is unclear whether an enlarged amygdala is the cause of anxiety or a result of it.
Researchers hope that their findings will ultimately help in the early diagnosis and treatment of anxiety in children.