04 June 2007

Forms of Anxiety: Apprehension vs. Arousal

One of the major failings of Psychiatry is that it is unable to differentiate between mental disorders of different etiologies that produce similar symptoms. One form of anxiety, for example, is not the same as another--and the treatments should reflect the differences in etiology.

The DSM classifications lack the fine discrimination that neural-genetic etiology could provide. But neuro-reasearch is slowly providing psychiatry with the background knowledge that it has been lacking for so long.
The researchers used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to map the brain areas with heightened neural activity during a variety of psychological probes.

As the researchers had predicted, the anxious apprehension group exhibited enhanced left-brain activity and the anxious arousal group had heightened activity in the right brain. The anxious apprehension group showed increased activity in a region of the left inferior frontal lobe that is associated with speech production. The anxious arousal group had more activity in a region of the right-hemisphere inferior temporal lobe that is believed to be involved in tracking and responding to information signaling danger.

While EEG had localized apprehension to the left brain and arousal to the right brain, fMRI was able to further localize apprehension to the left inferior frontal lobe and arousal to the right inferior temporal lobe. This distinction is extremely important for the study of the different anxiety disorders, and eventual treatments.

Consider deep brain stimulation treatments, for example. Being able to place electrodes in the precise location for the precise disorder should be more efficacious than uniform placement for all disorders within a broad classification.

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