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First functional magnetic resonance imaging study to look at the effect of caffeine on anxiety published

24 November 2011

The effect of caffeine on anxiety published

Caffeine is the most popular drug in the world, but it can also increase anxiety. For the first time, Jessica Smith and Professor Peter Rogers, in collaboration with researchers at Cardiff University, have used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate regions of the brain involved in the effect of caffeine on anxiety.  In this study participants completed an emotional face processing task comprising threatening (angry/fearful) and non-threatening (happy) faces while undergoing fMRI after receiving caffeine or placebo. It was found that caffeine modified activation to social signal of threat in brain regions involved in threat processing and anxiety, namely the midbrain-periaqueductal gray, amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex wall. This fMRI study is first to demonstrate potential neural correlates of caffeine-induced anxiety in humans and is published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 

Storm in a coffee cup: caffeine modifies brain activation to social signals of threat. Jessica E. Smith, Andrew D. Lawrence, Ana Diukova, Richard G. Wise, and Peter J. Rogers. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 2011, http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/11/16/scan.nsr058

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