In a discovery that would help understand the nervous system of psychiatric patients, researchers have found “scrambled connections” between the brain cells which process fear and emotion and other regions of the brain lead to anxiety disorders.

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine found that connectivity between amygdala, a pair of almond-sized bundles of nerve fibres in the middle of the brain, and its other regions could be the hallmark of common anxiety problems like Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

“The findings could help researchers identify biological differences between types of anxiety disorders as well as depression,” lead author Amit Etkin said.

During the study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, the team has examined the brains of people with GAD, a psychiatric condition in which patients spend their days in a haze of worry over everyday concerns.

They found that in healthy participants, sub-regions of amygdala were linked to other parts of the brain which were associated with visual and auditory processing, as well as with memory and high-level emotional and cognitive functions.

However, in people with psychiatric disorders, both amygdala regions had less connectivity to the region of the brain responsible for determining the importance of stimuli.

This means that people with the disorder have a harder time discerning truly worrisome situations from mild annoyances, Science Daily reported.

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