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‘Excessive Worrying’ linked to Intelligence

It might not be rational or scientific, but there are some of us who just know instinctively that if we don't clutch the armrests with a deathgrip on takeoff, that obviously the wings will fall off.

Laugh all you like, but we're the ones who've kept the species alive. Excessive worrying may have co-evolved with intelligence, and frankly, if nobody had ever worried about whether it was safe to eat the brightly-coloured frogs, we wouldn't be here now.


Worrying may have evolved along with intelligence as a beneficial trait, according to a recent study by scientists at SUNY Downstate Medical Center and other institutions. Jeremy Coplan, MD, professor of psychiatry at SUNY Downstate, and colleagues found that high intelligence and worry both correlate with brain activity measured by the 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."

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.

Source: SUNY Downstate Medical Center

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