Researchers Make Breakthrough in Anxiety Research

By Staff Writer

A team of researchers may have discovered the area of the brain that is responsible for feelings of stress and anxiety, providing a potential target for the treatment of anxiety. When combined with therapy from rehab facilities, the theoretical medications could greatly improve an individual’s chances of recovery.

The researchers from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research in Singapore reported in the journal Current Biology that they tested alterations to various areas of the brains of zebrafish. They said that, in many respects, the fish’s brain is similar to that of humans, and offers a good opportunity to study changes in detail.

The area of the brain that most strongly correlated with anxiety was the habenula, a structure located deep in the human brain. Investigators found that fish that had changes in this area became helpless when faced with frightening situations. They were also more easily startled by non-threatening events.

The researchers said that their findings answer some questions about human anxiety. They plan to continue their research in the hopes of findings information that could be useful in the development of new anti-anxiety medications.