Brain Facts

Posted by Safe In4 Hub

Amygdala hyperactivity: why you’re anxious in seemingly ‘normal’ situations

The first difference neuroscientists have found is that people with clinical social anxiety (referred to as people with social anxiety from here on) have hyperactive amygdalae, causing them to be extra vigilant in social situations. A 2005 study compared FMRIs of people with and without social anxiety when looking at pictures of human faces with different emotions. They found that the people with social anxiety showed higher amygdala activation when looking at faces with negative expressions like anger, distrust, and fear. In addition, the study found that the more socially anxious a person was, the higher the activity in their amygdala when they viewed the harsh faces.

This study suggests that people with social anxiety are more sensitive to signs of possible social threat than others, and the more socially anxious they are, the more hypervigilant they are to any possible signals of danger. So, if you’re at a party with friends and you wonder why everyone else seems to be enjoying the party while you’re nervous and super worried about all the things that are going (and might go wrong)? it might be because you have a hyperactive amygdala that causes you to question small things like an eye roll or an insincere laugh. Your brain is literally scanning for cues that something is going wrong while your friends’ brains are not as fine-tuned to such signals.

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