New research recently published in the journal Cerebral Cortex states that improving activity in the brain’s “executive control” centre can protect against anxiety and depression.
Researchers at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, USA, set out to investigate new strategies for people with anxiety to better manage.
In the new research, Professor Ahmad Hariri, together with Matthew Scult — a psychology and neuroscience graduate student analyzed the so-called dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), the part of the brain associated with executive commands.
The DLPFC also helps us gain control over our emotions, and is a key part in the functional practice of cognitive behavioural therapy.
Prof. Hariri said: “We wanted to address an area of understanding mental illness that has been neglected, and that is the flip side of risk.
“We are looking for variables that actually confer resiliency and protect individuals from developing problems.”
The study revealed that people were less likely to develop anxiety symptoms if their DLPFC was stimulated.
The research further argues that brain-training strategies may be particularly useful for combating anxiety and depression if they focus on this area.
Prof. Hariri concluded: “These findings help reinforce a strategy whereby individuals may be able to improve their emotional functioning — their mood, their anxiety, their experience of depression — not only by directly addressing those phenomena, but also by indirectly improving their general cognitive functioning.”