They found kids with bigger amygdalae, as well as more connectivity with the areas of the brain responsible for attention and emotion perception, had higher levels of anxiety than other kids. (Flickr / Tracy Abildskov)
More popular and trending stories
They were even able to come up with an equation that predicted anxiety levels based on MRI measurements of amygdala volume and connectivity.
The study's first author explains its importance: "Understanding the influence of childhood anxiety on specific amygdala circuits ... will provide important new insights into the neurodevelopmental origins of anxiety in humans." (Via Elsevier)
Bioscholar News sees treatment possibilities here — that awareness of the amygdala's importance could mean better treatment for kids at risk of anxiety disorders at earlier ages.
Still, HealthDay is skeptical, noting the study did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The researchers went with children ages 7-9 because they say anxiety levels can be first be accurately identified in that age range. The study is out in the journal Biological Psychiatry.