Did you know that the majority of people report after months of a pandemic combined with economic problems and social unrest? Does fatigue and obsessive scrolling on social media hit a familiar chord?
These fragile feelings give us a glimpse of what a regular life can be like for individuals with sensory processing sensitivity (SPS), a biological trait possessed by about a third of the population. In a world of constant information overload and stress, this is a characteristic that can lead to various behaviors, from emotional outbursts to withdrawal, overload and procrastination.
“We view behavior as more careful and cautious when we approach new things,”
“Another broad way of thinking about this issue that biologists use to understand people’s individual differences in responses to different things is that a person with high sensitivity will be more responsive, for better or for worse.” continued Acevedo. So while people with high sensitivity may shiver more uncomfortably from situations, they may also experience higher levels of creativity, deeper connections with others, and an increased appreciation of beauty.
The mechanism behind these depths and heights and extra caution lies in the way highly sensitive people’s brains process information: They do it deeper, Acevedo said. And in an article published in the magazine Neuropsychobiology, she and her colleagues continue to return to where this deeper processing takes place in the brain.
“One of the new achievements of this study was that in most previous brain imaging studies, we tended to look at stimulus responses,” Acevedo said. “It was a study that just looked at what the brain does at rest and how its sensitivity affects it.”
Taking their volunteers to a functional MRI scanner located in the basement of the UCSB Psychological Building, the researchers conducted a “empathy task” in which participants were shown descriptions of happy, sad or neutral events, followed by the respective emotional faces of partners and strangers. Volunteers were asked to count backwards with seven in large numbers “to wash away the effects of experiencing all kinds of emotions” between the photos of the face.
“Then they were asked to give some answers to tell us how they feel when they are shown an image of each face,” Acevedo said. Participants were then instructed to relax while their brains were scanned.
“What we found was a pattern that suggested that during this break, after doing something emotionally arousing, their brains show activity that suggests depth of processing,” she said, “and that depth of processing. is a major feature of high sensitivity. “
Among the strongest signals in participants who scored points with higher SPS levels was the greater connection between the precuneus and hippocampus, a chain that is involved in episodic memory consolidation and spontaneous memory retrieval. Consolidating memory is important, Acevedo said, to prepare a person for future similar situations and how to respond to them.
Meanwhile, weaker links have been found between the periaqueductal gray and the amygdala, a region important for modulating pain and anxiety, and between the insula and hippocampus, a chain thought to be important for emotion processing and stress management. These negative connections may be the reason sensitive people report overstimulation and higher anxiety, Acevedo said. In particular, the “stable negative connection” between the hippocampus and the insula implies a “higher order, advisory consolidation of memory” rather than the usual automated responses usually caused by stressful events.
The results of this article represent a significant advance in the growing understanding of the sensitivity of sensory processing, a feature that is present among approximately 1.4 billion of the world’s population. The results may also have some clinical significance for those with mood disorders, such as anxiety, said Acevedo, whose book The Highly Sensitive Brain is a finalist for the American Publishers Association Award for Professional and Scientific Excellence (PROSE) in 2021. Neurology . One way to help with this tension and focusing problems, whether you consider yourself highly sensitive or not?
“Rest,” Atcevedo said. “For all of us, but especially for the very sensitive, a break of a few minutes and not necessarily doing anything but relaxing can be beneficial. We’ve seen this on a behavioral level and a brain level.”
The doctor’s ability to empathize may be in the genes
Bianca P. Acevedo et al, Sensory processing Sensitivity predicts individual differences in resting functional connectivity related to processing depth, Neuropsychobiology (2021). DOI: 10.1159 / 000513527
Provided by the University of California, Santa Barbara
Quote: The study reveals patterns in the resting brains of highly sensitive people (2021, May 4), extracted on May 5, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-05-uncovers-patterns-resting-brains- highly.html
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