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Anxiety-ridden less sensitive to their environment

Wednesday December 21, 2011 07:11:39 PM, IANS

Tel Aviv: Anxious people have been classified as hypersensitive, but they may actually not be sensitive enough, reveals a study.

Tahl Frenkel, doctoral candidate in Tel Aviv University School of Psychological Sciences, working under professor Yair Bar-Haim, measured how the brain processes fear in anxious and non-anxious people.

Surprisingly, anxious participants in the study weren't shown to be as physiologically sensitive to subtle changes in their environment as less fearful individuals, explained Frenkel, the journal Biological Psychology reported.

Non-anxious individuals seem to have a subconscious early warning system, allowing them to prepare for evolving threats, a university statement said.

Essentially, anxious people are surprised by fearful stimuli that non-anxious individuals have already subconsciously noticed, analyzed, and evaluated.

Researchers identified the 10 percent most anxious individuals and 10 percent least anxious to participate in the final study.

When confronted with a potential threat, non-anxious people unconsciously notice subtle changes in the environment before they consciously recognize the threat. Lacking such preparation, anxious individuals often react more strongly, as the threat takes them by surprise, explained Frenkel.

"The EEG results tell us that what looks like hypersensitivity on a behavioural level is in fact the anxious person's attempt to compensate for a deficit in the sensitivity of their perception," he concluded.


 


 

 

 

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