Study Reveals Women With Anxiety Have Brains That Work Harder

New research from Michigan State University has shown that women who experience anxiety have brains that are more active and work harder to complete even basic tasks. This rapid activity can often lead to more mistakes and incorrect answers when performing basic tasks.


In order to discover anxiety’s affect on the brain, researchers studied groups of both male and female college students. They not only filled out a survey that determined their average levels of worry and anxiety but also were asked to complete some simple tasks. During the simple task, brain activity was measured by way of an electrode cap.


When researchers examined the results they noticed a trend in women who had self-reported high levels of worry and anxiety. Their brain activity was more rapid when they made a mistake in the task they were asked to complete. When the tests remained fairly simple, both men and women got the correct answers at nearly the same increments. As the tasks become more challenging, women who worried did worse. This finding in combination with the results of the brain activity monitoring helped researchers determine that it may be harder for women to do well in simple tasks when they are overwhelmed with anxiety or worry.


Activity increases because distracting thoughts often come and go while their brains are working to figure out the task at hand, leaving them with more difficulty concentrating.


This research is thought to be of some use to medical professionals in the future since this type of testing could possibly help identify women who may be more prone to experiencing anxiety attacks or perhaps even obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).


Additional research will also be conducted to find out why women are more likely than men (nearly twice as likely) to experience anxiety. There is interest in the medical field to see if estrogen plays any role in this. This study has marked an important first in the effort to see if there is any correlation between error making and anxiety.


For parents, this type of research may come in handy some day if screening is carried out to determine those children who will grow to have anxiety disorders. Children who are doing poorly in school could also be experiencing these challenges do to their overactive brains as well.


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