Mental & Emotional Health

The Heritability of Anxiety

Individual differences in the connectivity between regions of the brain involved in fear and anxiety are heritable, according to a large study of hundreds of related monkeys published in July 2018 n JNeurosci. The research provides new insights into the risk and development of anxiety disorders.

A release from the Society of Neuroscience explains that using brain imaging techniques regularly employed in human studies, Ned Kalin and colleagues found that functional connectivity between two regions of the central extended amygdala is associated with anxious temperament in pre-adolescent rhesus macaques.

As extreme early-life anxiety is a risk factor for anxiety disorders and depression in humans, further study of this nonhuman primate model may yield new directions in the prevention of these disorders in at-risk children. This would represent an improvement over current treatments, which address symptoms rather than the mechanisms underlying the development of these disorders.

Image credit: Fox et al., JNeurosci (2018)

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