Chinks in the brain make some more vulnerable to anxiety

London: Ever wondered why some worry over small issues while others just stay cool in the face of calamity? Blame it to their brain circuitry, says a new study.

An international team has identified two chinks in the brain circuitry which make some more vulnerable to anxiety, a finding that the researchers claim may pave the way for more targeted treatment of chronic fear and anxiety disorders, the `Neuron` journal reported.

In the brain imaging study, the researchers from the University of California and Cambridge University discovered two distinct neural pathways that play a role in whether people develop and overcome fears.

The first involves an overactive amygdala, which is home to the brain`s primal fight-or-flight reflex and plays a role in developing specific phobias. The second involves activity in the ventral prefrontal cortex, a neural region that helps us to overcome our fears and worries.

Some participants in the study were able to mobilise their ventral prefrontal cortex to reduce their fear responses even while negative events were still occurring, the findings have revealed.

"This finding is important because it suggests some people may be able to use this ventral frontal part of the brain to regulate their fear responses -even in situations where stressful or dangerous events are ongoing," said team leader Sonia Bishop.

"If we can train those individuals who are not naturally good at this to be able to do this, we may be able to help chronically anxious individuals as well as those who live in situations where they are exposed to dangerous or stressful situations over a long time frame," she added.