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Brain images reveal impact of stress

22nd November 2005

New technology has created an image of what the brain looks like in times of stress and depression.

The pictures revealed which parts of the brain are affected and how mental health and anxiety can affect different areas.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania were able to map out the effects of stress, discovering an increase in blood flow in the prefrontal cortex.

This region was previously thought to be associated with depression and indicates a potential link between psychological problems and negative feelings, paving the way for new research into ways of treating mental illness.

Volunteers were asked to complete a series of complex mental challenges in a short space of time during the experiment, with results suggesting that while mild pressure can help people to concentrate, extreme stress has a detrimental impact.