Size, Connectivity of Brain Region Linked to Anxiety Level in Young Children
[Source: Science Daily]
Prolonged stress and anxiety during childhood is a risk factor for developing anxiety disorders and depression later in life. Now, Stanford University School of Medicine researchers have shown that by measuring the size and connectivity of a part of the brain associated with processing emotion — the amygdala — they can predict the degree of anxiety a young child is experiencing in daily life.
They found that the larger the amygdala and the stronger its connections with other parts of the brain involved in perception and regulation of emotion, the greater the amount of anxiety a child was experiencing.
The findings do not mean that a young child with an enlarged and highly connected amygdala will necessarily go on to develop a mood disorder, said Vinod Menon, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and senior author of the study, published online Nov. 20 in Biological Psychiatry.
“We are not at a point where we can use these findings to predict the likelihood of a child developing mood and anxiety disorders as an adult, but it is an important step in the identification of young children at risk for clinical anxiety,” Menon said.
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