Brain 311 T.
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Anxious people have long been classified as “hypersensitive” for their tendency
to be more fearful and feel threatened more easily than their non-anxious
counterparts. But new research from Tel Aviv University shows that anxiety may
not come from hypersensitivity; in fact, just the opposite, says Dr. Tahl
Frenkel, a doctoral candidate from the school of psychological sciences and the
Adler Center for Research in Child Developmental and Psychopathology, working
with her supervisor Prof. Yair Bar-Haim.
As part of a study on how the
brain processes fear in anxious and non-anxious individuals, the researchers
looked at brain activity as study participants were shown fear-inducing stimuli.
Using an electroencephalograph, which measures electrical activity on the scalp
caused by activity of the neurons, the researchers discovered that the anxious
group was actually less stimulated than the non-anxious group. The results of
the study were recently published in the journalBiological
This results show that the anxious participants weren’t as
sensitive to subtle changes in their environment, explains Frenkel. Anxious
individuals could have a deficit in their threat evaluation capabilities,
necessary for effective decision making and regulating fear responses – leading
to an over-reaction to subtle threatening stimuli.
individuals seem to have a subconscious “early warning system” that allows them
to prepare for evolving threats. Essentially, anxious people are “surprised” by
fearful stimuli that non-anxious individuals have already subconsciously
noticed, analyzed and categorized properly by level of threat, she
Anxious people process stimuli with a lot of bias, says Frenkel.
They will categorize things as threatening that non-anxious people can process
automatically and then dismiss as non-harmful.
A non-anxious person has
forewarning when they are confronted with stimuli, having subconsciously noticed
the subtle changes in the environment before conscious recognition of the
threat. Without such preparation, anxious individuals often react more strongly,
as though the threat is creeping up behind them.
“What looks like
hypersensitivity on a behavioral level is in fact, when you look at the results
of the EEG, the anxious person’s attempt to compensate for a deficit in the
sensitivity of their perception,” she explains.
HELP WITH POTENTIALLY
LEAKY BREAST IMPLANTS
The Health Ministry has set a precedent by instructing the
four health funds to pay for the surgical removal and replacement in any public
hospital of breast implants for esthetic surgery if the patient’s doctor
believes she is at risk for the first one to leak and pose a cancer risk. The
patient would pay for a new implant, but the insurer would cover the costs of
surgery and hospitalization.
The unusual decision followed the discovery
than an implant called PIP, manufactured in France, apparently was at higher
risk to leak silicone into the body due to manufacturing defects. Although none
of the PIP implants had been approved by the Health Ministry during the last two
years after the first warnings were issued abroad, some 850 had apparently been
in storage and implanted, most of them by surgeons at private hospitals. The
ministry is investigating how they were used at all without approval.
ministry said that the exceptional decision is unusual because rules prohibit
patients for paying for medical devices approved by its legal
The decision will be in effect not only for the PIP implants
but for whenever a qualified doctor fears a breast implant is leaking or at risk
of doing so.
Until now, purely esthetic surgery has not been included in
the basket of health service.
American manufacturers of other silicone
implants (not the PIP kind) recommend replacing them every 10 years, while
American societies for plastic and esthetic surgery say they should be replaced
only if there is concern about leakage. Their Israeli counterparts differ on the
subject and do not have a uniform recommendation.PHARMACY LICENSES
about a year, anyone who graduated from a local school of pharmacy and wants to
become a licensed pharmacist must pass a government exam. The change, according
to its initiator MK Arye Eldad, means that unlike other medical professions,
passing such a test was not mandatory, even though the Health Ministry had the
power to demand it. Until now, it used its authority only to demand adequate
test marks from people who studied at schools of pharmacy abroad.
graduates of Israeli schools will have to do so. There was no opposition in the
Knesset to this change.