New York: Researchers discovered that children with high levels of anxiety may have an enlarged volume of the amygdala, the brain’s “fear centre,” which could help better treat young children at risk for anxiety disorders.
The amygdala is a set of almond-shaped neurons deep in the brain’s medial temporal lobe that plays a key role in emotion processing.
Changes in the amygdala’s development during childhood may have a significant impact on the development of anxiety disorders.
In comparison to children with low levels of anxiety, children with high levels of anxiety had an enlarged amygdala volume and increased connectivity with other brain regions responsible for attention, emotion perception, and regulation, the findings revealed.
‘Our research is a significant step forward in characterising altered brain systems and developing predictive biomarkers for identifying young children at risk for anxiety disorders,’ said Shaozheng Qin of Stanford University School of Medicine in the United States.
The study included 76 children aged seven to nine, when anxiety-related traits and symptoms can be reliably identified for the first time.
The research was published in Biological Psychiatry.