Anxiety cells in the brain
The findings from the study were also published the same week that new research from the US revealed that previously unknown “anxiety cells” have been discovered for the first time.
A new UK study suggests a more unusual risk factor for being bitten by a dog, finding that anxious personality types are more likely to be nipped by man’s best friend. Researchers from the University of Liverpool set out to collect more accurate data on the incidence of dog bites in the UK, surveying 694 people in 385 households in England. The survey included questions on how many people had been bitten by a dog; whether the bites needed treatment; and whether the victims knew the dog that had bitten them. Participants were also asked whether they owned a dog themselves.
To look at how personality type might be linked to the risk of being bitten, the researchers also assessed emotional stability using the Ten Item Personality Inventory (TIPI), which looks at various aspects of personality, including emotional stability and neuroticism. The team found that although hospital records show the rate of dog bites to be 740 per 100,000 of the population, the survey responses indicated that this figure may be nearly three times higher, with a rate of 1873 per 100,000.
Carried out by a team of scientists at UC San Francisco and Columbia University Medical Center and published in the journal Neuron, the study used live imaging of rodents’ brains to find that neurons in the hippocampus light up when the animal is stressed and anxious. After further tests the team also found that suppressing these newly found neural pathways caused the animals to feel more at ease spending time in environments that would normally frighten them. However, stimulating the pathways had the opposite effect, causing the animals to feel anxious even when in a safe environment.