A new study suggest worrying is a beneficial trait that evolved in association with intelligence.
Jeremy Coplan, MD, and colleagues came to this conclusion by matching brain activity with depletion of the nutrient choline in the subcortical white matter of the brain.
According to the researchers, this suggests that intelligence may have co-evolved with worry in humans.
“While excessive worry is generally seen as a negative trait and high intelligence as a positive one, worry may cause our species to avoid dangerous situations, regardless of how remote a possibility they may be,” said Dr. Coplan.
“In essence, worry may make people ‘take no chances,’ and such people may have higher survival rates. Thus, like intelligence, worry may confer a benefit upon the species.”
In current study, researchers were interested in learning the relationship between anxiety and intelligence in patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Study participants were compared with healthy volunteers to assess the relationship among intelligence quotient (IQ), worry, and subcortical white matter metabolism of choline.
Investigators studied 18 healthy volunteers (eight males and 10 females) and 26 patients with GAD (12 males and 14 females) served as subjects.
In a control group of normal volunteers, high IQ was associated with a lower degree of worry, but in those diagnosed with GAD, high IQ was associated with a greater degree of worry.
Previous studies have indicated that excessive worry tends to exist both in people with higher intelligence and lower intelligence, and less so in people of moderate intelligence. It has been hypothesized that people with lower intelligence suffer more anxiety because they achieve less success in life.
The results of their study has been published in a recent edition of Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience.
Source: SUNY Downstate Medical Center