City life dim the brain lights

June 27, 2011 1:45:50 PM PDT
Though city living has its benefits, health experts know that city dwellers are more likely to have mental health issues, such as anxiety and mood disorders as well as schizophrenia.

A new study delves into the possible biological explanations, by looking at parts of the brain that are affected by stress. Researchers found that during stressful situations these areas are more active in people in urban settings than those who live in small towns or rural areas. In other words- the urban residents seem to respond more strongly to stress than their counterparts in rural areas.

In the German study, about 80 participants did arithmetic tasks under time pressure. The part of the brain that has to do with regulating emotions, called the amygdala, "lit up" more during brain scans in city-dwellers than in country-dwellers.

Researchers are quick to point out the many positive aspects of city-living and say they aren't sure if spending more time in the country could help city dwellers de-stress, but reducing stress, whatever the method, is good for our mental health.