Anxiety Shuts Down the Decision Center of Your Brain

The prefrontal cortex is the greatest success story of evolution. It’s the reason we can form plans, control our impulses, and distinguish good from bad.

Needless to say, it’s important. Which is why this recent scientific finding has serious implications for sufferers of anxiety.

So what did the researchers find?

They discovered that anxious individuals, when they have to overcome a conflict, show reduced activity of neurons in the prefrontal cortex.

They become less able to stick to the plan and become prone to give in to impulses (such as escaping an anxiety-provoking situation).

The area most affected by anxiety was the one responsible for holding on to plans. The area responsible for making value judgments (good/bad) was less affected.

So when you are experiencing anxiety, you will probably be aware of what you should be doing. But you will have a hard time actually doing so.

Study: Anxiety Evokes Hypofrontality and Disrupts Rule-Relevant Encoding by Dorsomedial Prefrontal Cortex Neurons

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