Researchers have discovered that growing up or living in the city affects how stress is processed in the brain. “Previous findings have shown that the risk for anxiety disorders is 21 percent higher for people from the city, who also have a 39 percent increase for mood disorders,”
"In addition, the incidence for schizophrenia is almost doubled for individuals who are born and brought up in cities.
"These values are a cause for concern and determining the biology behind this is the first step to remedy the trend."The team of researchers studied the brain activity of volunteers from urban and rural areas as they attempted to solve arithmetic problems under the stresses of time and negative feedback from the investigators an experimental protocol called the Montreal Imaging Stress Task (MIST).
Their findings were published in Nature on June 22nd.
The scientists found that for city-dwellers there was greater brain activity in the amygdala - an area of the brain involved in the regulation of emotion and mood - when they became stressed.In individuals who were raised in an urban area, there was also more activity in a part of the brain known as the cingulate cortex, which is involved in the regulation of stress.
"These findings suggest that different brain regions are sensitive to the experience of city living during different times across the lifespan," said Pruessner of the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, noting that "future studies need to clarify the link between psychopathology and these affects in individuals with mental disorders."
These findings contribute to our understanding of urban environmental risk for mental disorders and health in general.