Anxious brains redirect emotion regulation

Anxiety disorders are difficult to treat because of the excessive avoidance of feared situations. The brain circuit involved in overriding avoidance tendencies is centered around the lateral frontopolar cortex (FPl) and interacts with other brain regions. The FPl plays a causal role in emotional action selection and its recruitment predicts resilience against emotional disorders. This study aimed to understand how FPl function affects the control of emotional actions in individuals with anxiety. The study found that high-anxiety individuals rely on different brain regions, such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC), for emotional-action control instead of the FPl. The FPl of anxious participants also showed higher neuronal excitability and stronger connections to the amygdala, which may account for the shift in control circuits. These findings provide insights into the neural vulnerability of anxious individuals and may lead to targeted interventions.

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