June 22nd, 2011
01:00 PM ET

Stress and the city: How your brain responds

The people, the traffic, the crime - these are just some reasons why you might feel stressed out while living in a city. And now research backs up that the brain of a city-dweller may respond more strongly to stress than a country-dweller.

The study in the journal Nature also suggests that two brain regions involved with emotion and stress regulation could potentially be harmed by living in a city.

The new research delves into possible biological explanations for why other studies have found a 21% higher risk of anxiety disorders and a 39% increased risk for mood disorders among people who come from cities.

In the first stage of the study, 32 healthy participants did arithmetic tasks under time pressure while researchers examined their brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). They found that people who live in cities had increased activity in the amygdala, an almond-shaped region of the brain involved in stress response, compared with those who lived in towns and rural areas.

In a follow-up, 23 participants engaged in slightly different mental tasks and got negative feedback from the experimenters in videos. Here, the study authors found the same pattern in amygdala activity among people who lived in cities. At the same time, people who had grown up in cities often showed activity in the perigenual anterior cingulate cortex - a major player in stress regulation. Study authors then looked at 24 people who mostly resided in towns and rural areas, who did not show these stress responses. (This sample size is considered respectable in the brain imaging world).

The brain regions identified here have long been known to activate under stressful conditions, but this is the first evidence that city living can make you respond to stress more, said David Knight, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, who was not involved in the study.

More research needs to be done to determine whether these brain responses among people who live in cities, or grew up in them, are actually good or bad for you, Knight said.

This study did not directly address how long you have to live in a city to have these effects, or how much vacation time the test subjects take away from busier environments.

There's good evidence that too much stress can harm the brain, Knight said. On the other hand, if you're in a place where you need to react more quickly and vigorously to potential threats, the stress response could be beneficial.

"Maybe just being in a busier environment, things that are stressful are the ones that need to be prioritized. So your brain responds more to stressful events so that you prioritize them more," he said.

soundoff (900 Responses)
  1. tv repair near me


    June 16, 2021 at 20:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. pet store near me

    Iím amazed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog thatís both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which too few men and women are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I found this during my search for something relating to this.


    June 16, 2021 at 20:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. pet store near me


    June 16, 2021 at 21:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Demarcus Montecillo

    You could definitely see your enthusiasm within the paintings you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who aren't afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.


    June 16, 2021 at 23:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Allena Ojima

    My coder is trying to convince me to move to .net from PHP. I have always disliked the idea because of the costs. But he's tryiong none the less. I've been using Movable-type on a variety of websites for about a year and am worried about switching to another platform. I have heard fantastic things about blogengine.net. Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress posts into it? Any help would be greatly appreciated!


    June 17, 2021 at 00:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. RV Repair Near Me


    June 17, 2021 at 01:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RV Repair Near Me Now


    June 17, 2021 at 02:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RV Repair Places Near Me

    Can I just say what a comfort to find someone who genuinely understands what they're discussing on the net. You actually understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. A lot more people have to check this out and understand this side of the story. I can't believe you are not more popular given that you certainly possess the gift.


    June 17, 2021 at 03:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. RV Repair San Clemente California


    June 17, 2021 at 03:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. panda express near me


    June 17, 2021 at 05:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Shakita Schwallie

    Thank you for sharing excellent informations. Your site is very cool. I am impressed by the details that you have on this website. It reveals how nicely you understand this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for extra articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found simply the info I already searched everywhere and just could not come across. What a perfect web-site.


    June 17, 2021 at 05:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Camper Repair Near Me


    June 17, 2021 at 05:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. qt near me


    June 17, 2021 at 05:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. RV Repairs Near My Location


    June 17, 2021 at 06:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. asian market near me

    You made some good points there. I looked on the internet to learn more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.


    June 17, 2021 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. hardee's near me


    June 17, 2021 at 18:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. fun things to do near me

    bookmarked!!, I really like your web site!


    June 17, 2021 at 20:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. tire stores near me

    You've made some decent points there. I checked on the net to find out more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this web site.


    June 17, 2021 at 20:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. sams club near me

    Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Thank you so much, However I am having issues with your RSS. I donít understand why I am unable to join it. Is there anyone else getting identical RSS problems? Anybody who knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanx!!


    June 17, 2021 at 21:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Tom Bross

    A powerful share, I just given this onto a colleague who was doing somewhat evaluation on this. And he in fact purchased me breakfast as a result of I discovered it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the deal with! However yeah Thnkx for spending the time to debate this, I really feel strongly about it and love studying more on this topic. If potential, as you turn into experience, would you mind updating your weblog with extra particulars? It is highly useful for me. Big thumb up for this blog submit!


    June 17, 2021 at 21:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. italian restaurants near me

    May I just say what a relief to discover a person that genuinely understands what they are talking about over the internet. You actually know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. A lot more people have to look at this and understand this side of your story. It's surprising you're not more popular since you definitely have the gift.


    June 17, 2021 at 22:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. burlington coat factory near me

    Very good post. I am facing a few of these issues as well..


    June 17, 2021 at 22:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Albertina Coxey

    of course like your web site but you need to check the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling problems and I find it very troublesome to tell the truth nevertheless I will definitely come back again.


    June 17, 2021 at 22:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Rashad Harjochee

    I was suggested this website by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my trouble. You are amazing! Thanks!


    June 17, 2021 at 23:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. burger places near me


    June 17, 2021 at 23:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. haunted houses near me

    You are so awesome! I do not believe I've truly read through a single thing like this before. So wonderful to discover another person with some genuine thoughts on this topic. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This web site is one thing that's needed on the web, someone with a little originality!


    June 18, 2021 at 00:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Cecily Grit

    I think this is among the most significant info for me. And i am glad reading your article. But want to remark on few general things, The web site style is great, the articles is really nice : D. Good job, cheers


    June 18, 2021 at 01:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. dispensaries near me

    Having read this I thought it was extremely informative. I appreciate you finding the time and effort to put this article together. I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!


    June 18, 2021 at 03:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. harley davidson near me


    June 18, 2021 at 04:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. banks near me


    June 18, 2021 at 04:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Rosaria Berryman

    You could certainly see your expertise in the paintings you write. The sector hopes for more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to say how they believe. All the time follow your heart.


    June 18, 2021 at 05:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. casinos near me


    June 18, 2021 at 08:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. fred meyer near me


    June 18, 2021 at 08:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. hiring near me

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on this. And he actually ordered me lunch because I discovered it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to discuss this matter here on your internet site.


    June 18, 2021 at 09:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. RV Repair California


    June 18, 2021 at 12:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Nearby RV Repairs


    June 18, 2021 at 12:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. RV Repair

    You are so interesting! I don't suppose I've read through anything like that before. So great to find another person with a few unique thoughts on this topic. Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This site is one thing that is needed on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!


    June 18, 2021 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. 카지노 사이트

    Can I simply say what a relief to find somebody who truly understands what they are talking about on the internet. You definitely understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people ought to look at this and understand this side of the story. I can't believe you aren't more popular since you surely possess the gift.


    June 18, 2021 at 15:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. RV Repair Around Me

    You're so cool! I do not suppose I've read through something like this before. So great to discover another person with some unique thoughts on this subject matter. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that is needed on the internet, someone with some originality!


    June 18, 2021 at 16:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. phone repair near me

    Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Thank you for supplying this info.


    June 18, 2021 at 18:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Camper Repair Places Near Me

    Great information. Lucky me I recently found your site by accident (stumbleupon). I have saved it for later!


    June 18, 2021 at 18:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Nearby RV Repairs


    June 18, 2021 at 19:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. RV Repair Fountain Valley


    June 18, 2021 at 20:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Nearest RV Repair


    June 18, 2021 at 22:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. RV Repair Near Me Now

    There's certainly a great deal to find out about this topic. I love all the points you have made.


    June 18, 2021 at 23:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Nearest RV Repair

    I blog quite often and I seriously appreciate your information. The article has really peaked my interest. I'm going to take a note of your site and keep checking for new details about once per week. I opted in for your RSS feed as well.


    June 18, 2021 at 23:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. RV Repair Santa Ana

    Spot on with this write-up, I truly believe that this amazing site needs far more attention. Iíll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the advice!


    June 19, 2021 at 02:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. auto detailing near me


    June 19, 2021 at 03:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. RV Repair California


    June 19, 2021 at 04:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. grocery delivery near me

    Very nice write-up. I certainly appreciate this site. Keep writing!


    June 19, 2021 at 04:19 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.