An analysis of several brain scans of monkeys showed that parents suffering from anxiety and depression are likely to pass those feelings to their children. The study provides evidence that anxiety and depression are hereditary.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison observed 600 rhesus monkeys that came from an extended family. They exposed the young monkeys to a situation and used brain imaging to identify which region of the brain is affected by depression and anxiety.
The subjects were exposed to a stranger with no eye contact. During the process, the researchers observed increased activity in the prefrontal-limbic-midbrain circuit of the brain. These areas control the in-born risk for anxiety that can be observed in early childhood.
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