The Checkup: Anxiety May Cause Brain “Burn Out” in Women

The brains of worrisome women work harder than those of men, according to new research.

• Here’s a cautionary study for any woman who considers herself a worry wart. (For the record, I’m including myself here.) A study out of Michigan State University found that the brains of female worriers work harder than those of men. The study looked at the brain activity of male and female college students while they were asked to take a simple test. The women who identified themselves as worries showed higher brain activity, even though they performed about the same as the less anxious men in the study. When the tasks became more difficult, they actually performed worse, even though brain activity was still higher, suggesting, researchers say, that their anxiety got in the way of completing the task correctly. Here’s the, um, worrisome quote: “Anxious girls’ brains have to work harder to perform tasks because they have distracting thoughts and worries,” study author Jason Moser explains. “As a result their brains are being kind of burned out by thinking so much, which might set them up for difficulties in school.” Read more here.

• What extremes would you go to in order to be better at your job? One fitness trainer gained 70 pounds in six months—on purpose—only to lose it again six months later in an effort to better identify with overweight clients. Not surprisingly, doctors and nutrition experts say it was a stupid and dangerous stunt to pull.

• Researchers in Japan are testing a pair of goggles that makes small portions of food appear bigger to trick you into eating less. Interestingly, the crazy contraption actually seems to work.