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Does Your Brain Add to Your Asthma Problems?

Asthma.

Simply hearing words like "wheeze" can cause asthmatics to experience more severe asthma symptoms, according to a study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin.

Study Reveals Specific Parts of Brain Involved

The study shows a link between two brain regions and the physiological processes of asthma. Previous studies have shown that stress adversely affects people with inflammatory diseases like asthma. Inflammation has also been shown to affect the brain. But this is the first study that makes a link showing the specific brain circuits involved in the connection between asthma and the emotions.

Emotional Reactions to Words Researchers employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the brains of six asthmatics. They were asked to inhale ragweed or dust-mite extracts, and then shown three types of words: * Asthma-related (such as "wheeze") * Non-asthma negative (such as "loneliness") * Neutral words (such as "curtains") Stressful Words Caused a More Severe Reaction

Shortly after, they were measured for lung function and inflammation. The scans revealed that the asthma-related terms caused responses in the anterior cingulate cortex and the insula, and this correlated strongly with more severe problems. The other types of words did not have the same effect.

The two brain structures transmit information about the condition of the body, but are also strongly connected with other brain structures that process emotional information.

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