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Being anxious can be good in crisis

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Washington D.C.: A new study has found out that the human brain devotes more processing resources to social situations that signal threat, than those that are benign.

The study has also revealed that anxiety can be helpful in crisis.

French researchers claim that their study will help in explaining the apparent sixth sense humans have for danger.

Even more surprising for the scientists was the discovery that anxious individuals detect threat in a different region of the brain from people who are more laid-back. It was previously thought that anxiety could lead to oversensitivity to threat signals.

Anxious people process threats using regions of the brain responsible for action. Meanwhile, low anxious people process them in sensory circuits, responsible for face recognition.

In the study, the researchers have also found that the direction a person is looking in is the key to enhance the sensitivity to their emotions. Anger paired with a direct gaze produces a response in the brain in only 200 milliseconds, faster than if the angry person is looking elsewhere.

Lead author Marwa El Zein said that in crowd, a person will be most sensitive to an angry face looking towards him and will be less alert to an angry person looking somewhere else.

During the research, scientist found that non-clinical anxiety shifts the neural coding of threat to motor circuits, which produce action, from sensory circuits, which help us to recognise faces.

The research is published in the journal ‘eLife.’


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