Why we worry

Why is it that some of us are sanguine and others nervous wrecks in the aftermath of traumatic events? New research co-authored by Vandy doctoral neuroscience student Josh Buckholtz suggests inborn genetic differences related to how our brains regulate the neurotransmitter dopamine might hold the answer.

From the American Psychological Association press release:

Inborn differences may help explain why trauma gives some people bad memories and others the nightmare of post-traumatic stress. Scientists in Germany and the United States have reported evidence linking genes to anxious behavior. The findings appear in the August issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, published by the American Psychological Association.

By showing that people who carry a common variation of a gene that regulates the neurotransmitter dopamine have an exaggerated “startle” reflex when viewing unpleasant pictures, the researchers offer a biochemical explanation for why some people find it harder to regulate emotional arousal. Their sensitivity may, in combination with other hereditary and environmental factors, make them more prone to anxiety disorders.

Download the full study here.

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