Anxious? Check your orbitofrontal cortex
A new study links anxiety, a brain structure called the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and optimism – and finds that healthy adults who have larger OFCs tend to be more optimistic and less anxious.
The OFC, located just behind the eyes, is known to play a role in anxiety. This brain region integrates intellectual and emotional information and is essential to behavioral regulation.
Previous studies have found links between the size of a person’s OFC and his or her susceptibility to anxiety. But researchers at the University of Illinois wanted to know if shrinkage of the orbitofrontal cortex is associated with anxiety disorders.
By analyzing MRIs of different brain areas of volunteers and testing volunteers, it was learned that a thicker OFC on the left side of the brain corresponded to higher optimism and less anxiety. The statistical model also suggested that optimism played a mediating role in reducing anxiety in those with larger OFCs. Further analysis showed that no other brain structures appeared to be involved in reducing anxiety by boosting optimism.
The results were reported in the journal Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. illinois.edu
NCSU prof makes Popular Science’s ‘Brilliant 10’ list
Alper Bozkurt, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at N.C. State, has been named one of Popular Science’s “Brilliant 10” for his work establishing the foundations of the “internet of bionic things” in areas ranging from human-animal communication to insect biobots to human health-monitoring devices.
The annual “Brilliant 10” feature profiles 10 young scientists and engineers who are doing groundbreaking work in their fields. Features on each of them will appear in the October issue of Popular Science. ncsu.edu
How modern genetics was born: The reel story
At 7 p.m. Thursday, the N.C. Museum of Natural Science will offer a free screening of “The Fly Room,” a feature-length, PG-13 film about pioneering geneticist Calvin Bridges. His research in the early 1900s in his lab at New York’s Columbia University proved the existence of genes. Work establishing the basic laws that govern heritability and the passing of traits – earned the lab a Nobel Prize in 1933.
The movie is told from the viewpoint of his young daughter’s experience watching him in that lab. Director Alexis Gambis – will be at the screening to introduce “The Fly Room” and answer questions afterward.
While researching the story prior to filming, Gambis found that daughter, Betsey Bridges-Black, living in Asheville. She died there, age 96, in November.
The museum is at 11 W. Jones St., Raleigh. Staff reports
Gizmos, gadgets and gee-whiz galore at ‘maker fair’
Discovery Place is holding Charlotte’s first “maker fair” – a celebration of tinkers, inventors, innovative crafters, techies and educators – on Oct. 10. The museum reports that more than 70 local and national exhibitors will participate in Charlotte Mini Maker Faire, with displays ranging from a life-size 3D-printed Chevy Cobra to a robot hockey arena. Demonstrations, workshops and performances will be offered throughout the day at Discovery Place, 301 N. Tryon St.
Indoor activities and displays (includes museum admission): $15; $12 for 13 and younger and for 60 and older. Outdoor events: free. Details coming Tuesday at www.cltmakerfaire.org. Staff reports