People suffering from anxiety can take heart that genes are not destiny from the discussions on NPR in the last few days. Anxiety can be passed on genetically but new research is looking at something called plasticity in the brain, or the ability of the brain to change. Terri Gross’s Fresh Air interview with Scott Stossel, author of the new book, My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind talks both about the genetic component of anxiety but also the brain’s flexibility. Stossel says, “…the ability to kind of carve out new neural pathways continues throughout your entire life and in fact, even your genome can get affected by the environment – certain genes get turned on and off.”
The topic was picked up today on Tom Ashbrook’s On Point talk with Takao Hensch, professor of molecular and cellular biology, who reveals new research into brain plasticity that suggests that a generic pill could change the brain’s ability to absorb and retain new skills like language, music and more. Both discuss the idea of the plasticity of the brain and give hope that although anxiety can be genetic, the destiny of the brain can continue to be written.