Body "Awareness" Makes Some People Anxious

People who are highly sensitive to their heartbeat and other internal "body states" tend to experience more anxiety and other negative emotions on a daily basis. So says a new British study in the February issue of Nature Neuroscience. But that heightened sense of awareness may not be such a bad thing, says a neurology expert familiar with the research. In their study of 38 people, scientists found those who showed the most activity in a certain region of the brain while performing a task that measured their body awareness were prone to more anxiety and other "negative emotions" in daily life. The task asked the people to determine whether their heartbeat was synchronized with a series of tones. The researchers, from University College London and Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, also found the brain region -- called the right anterior insular cortex -- tended to be bigger in the more self-aware people.

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