Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Dr. Yuko Munakata

Abstract

Anxiety is one of the most prevalent mood disturbances in the United States. The underlying genetic and neural bases of anxiety are complex, but previous research suggests that anxiety may be associated with alterations in brain structures, such as the hippocampus, and with genetic variations within genes like that of the Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). To try to better understand these factors, we examined hippocampal volume, BDNF genotype, and self-report measures of anxiety together in a single study. We hypothesized that individuals with the Met allele of the BDNF gene would have reduced hippocampal volumes and elevated anxiety scores relative to individuals with the Val/Val genotype. This hypothesis was not well supported by the data. Implications for understanding the genetic and neural bases of anxiety are discussed.

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