Michigan State Researchers Examine How Anxiety Levels Impact Women’s Brain Activity

A study by researchers at Michigan State University examined the level of brain activity of men and women students assigned to solve problems on a computer screen. The students were then given a survey that measured their level of anxiety and how much they generally worry.

The results showed that brains of women who tested for a high level of anxiety worked harder when assigned tasks than women who were found not to be worriers. As the tasks on the computer screen became more complex, women with high degrees of anxiety tended to have difficulty performing the tasks compared to men and women with lower levels of anxiety.

Jason Moser, an assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University and the lead investigator of the research study, stated, “Anxious girls’ brains have to work harder to perform tasks because they have distracting thoughts and worried. As a result, their brains are being kind of burned out by thinking so much, which might set them up for difficulties in school. We already know that anxious kids, and especially anxious girls, have a harder time in some academic subjects such as math.”

Dr. Moser speculates that hormone differences between men and women may explain the differences in brain activity during problem-solving tasks.

The study, “Sex Moderates the Relationship Between Worry and Performance Monitoring Brain Activity in Undergraduates,” was published on the website of the International Journal of Psychophysiology. It can be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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