The Anxious Apple Doesn’t Tremble Far From The Tree

In a new research article in Nature,  Jonathan Oler and his team show that chronic anxiety is partly heritable. The form of clinical anxiety they studied is termed “Anxious Temperament” (AT), and Olen describes AT as,

“A trait-like phenotype evident early in life that is characterized by increased behavioral and physiological reactivity to mildly threatening stimuli (Olen et al, 2010).”

The researchers studied a large population of rhesus Monkeys (200+); by eliciting anxiety in the monkeys while analyzing their brains using PET scans, they found that “the central nucleus region of the amygdala and the anterior hippocampus are key components of the neural circuit predictive of AT.”  Furthermore, the hippocampal-driven anxiety response was often seen in closely related individuals.  I wonder what Woody Allen’s folks were like…

“Early in life, I was visited by the bluebird of anxiety.”

About the author

Sam McDougle

SAM MCDOUGLE is a Ph.D. candidate in Psychology and Neuroscience at Princeton University. His writing has appeared in Vice and The Atlantic.

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