Fundamentals_of_Abnormal_Psychology_6e_Ch04

2003 it is worth noting that the brain circuit

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Unformatted text preview: in circuits—networks of brain structures that work together, triggering each other into action and producing a particular kind of emotional reaction. It turns out that the circuit that produces panic reactions includes brain areas such as the amygdala, ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus, central gray matter, and locus ceruleus (Ninan & Dunlop, 2005) (see Figure 4-4).When a person confronts a frightening object or situation, the amygdala, a small almond-shaped structure that processes emotional information, is stimulated. In turn, the Ventromedial amygdala stimulates the other brain areas in the circuit, temporarnucleus of the ily setting into motion an “alarm-and-escape” response (increased hypothalamus heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and the like) that is very similar to a panic reaction (Gray & McNaughton, 1996). Most of today’s researchers believe that this brain circuit—including the neurotransmitters at work throughout the circuit—probably functions improperly in people who experience panic disorder (Burijon, 2007; Bailey et al., 2003). It is worth noting that the brain circuit responsible for panic reactions appears to be different from the circuit responsible for anxiety reactions (reactions that are more diffuse, ongoing, and worry-dominated than panic reactions) (see Figure 4-5 on the next page). The anxiety brain circuit, which functions improperly in people with generalized anxiety disorder, includes the amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and anterior cingulate cortex (McClure et al., 2007). ComFun6e_Ch04_C!.indd 117 Figure 4-4 The biology of panic The circuit in the brain that produces panic reactions includes areas such as the amygdala, ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus, central gray matter, and locus ceruleus. Central gray matter Amygdala Locus ceruleus 12/10/09 11:16:23 AM 118 ://CHAPTER 4 Anterior cingulate cortex Amygdala Prefrontal cortex Figure 4-5 The biology of anxiety The circuit in the brain linked to anxiety reactions appears to be different from the circuit linked to panic reactions. While the anxiety circuit shares the amygdala with the panic circuit, it further includes brain areas such as the prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex. Although some of the brain areas and neurotransmitters in the two circuits obviously overlap—particularly the amygdala, which seems to be at the center of each circuit—the finding that the panic brain circuit and the anxiety brain circuit are different has further convinced researchers that panic disorder is biologically different from generalized anxiety disorder and, for that matter, from other kinds of anxiety disorders. Why might some people have abnormalities in norepinephrine activity, locus ceruleus functioning, and other parts of the panic brain circuit? One possibility is that a predisposition to develop such abnormalities is inherited (Burijon, 2007;Torgersen, 1990, 1983). Once again, if a genetic factor is at work, close relatives should have higher rates of panic disorder than more distant relatives. Studies do find that among identical twins (twins...
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This note was uploaded on 01/07/2013 for the course PSY 270 taught by Professor Hall during the Spring '05 term at University of Phoenix.

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