Worry Spots in the Brain Identified

Feeling anxious? Are you obsessing about things? Don't worry - doctors think they know what's going on. By measuring blood flow to the brain, Johns Hopkins researchers have identified several sites on the right side that seem to be "worry spots," the cradle of anxious thoughts and feelings.

In a fascinating experiment, the researchers asked volunteers to listen to two tapes. One contained soothing messages about flower arrangements. The other described family stress, financial problems and other troubles. The worry-provoking tape induced measurably increased blood flow to parts of the cerebellum and right frontal lobe, among other areas. Dr. Rudolph Hoehn-Saric, director of the anxiety disorders clinic at Johns Hopkins, says identifying worry spots may soon help doctors treat such problems.

"As a matter of fact," explains Hoehn-Saric, "we already have done some scans where we could show that in obsessive-compulsive disorders certain medications do actually lower the activity of some hyperactive regions."

The new findings make sense, says Hoehn-Saric, since it is believed that the left side of the brain controls analytical thinking while the right handles emotion.

The Johns Hopkins University, 1997.