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A new study has revealed that altercations in the development of the amygdala during childhood may have an important influence on the development of anxiety problems.
According to the study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine, children with high levels of anxiety had enlarged amygdala volume and increased connectivity with other brain regions responsible for attention, emotion perception, and regulation, compared to children with low levels of anxiety.
The study also found that the children also developed an equation that reliably predicted the children's anxiety level from the MRI measurements of amygdala volume and amygdala functional connectivity.
The scientists said that the most affected region was the basolateral portion of the amygdala, a subregion of the amygdala implicated in fear learning and the processing of emotion-related information.
Shaozheng Qin said that it is a bit surprising that alterations to the structure and connectivity of the amygdala were so significant in children with higher levels of anxiety, given both the young age of the children and the fact that their anxiety levels were too low to be observed clinically.
The study was published in Biological Psychiatry.