Original Research ARTICLE
The relationship between intelligence and anxiety: an association with subcortical white matter metabolism
- 1 Division of Neuropsychopharmacology, Department of Psychiatry, State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY, USA
- 2 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA
- 3 Departments of Radiology, Psychiatry and Biophysics, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY, USA
- 4 Department of Neuroscience, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA
- 5 Comprehensive NeuroScience Inc., White Plains, NY, USA
We have demonstrated in a previous study that a high degree of worry in patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) correlates positively with intelligence and that a low degree of worry in healthy subjects correlates positively with intelligence. We have also shown that both worry and intelligence exhibit an inverse correlation with certain metabolites in the subcortical white matter. Here we re-examine the relationships among generalized anxiety, worry, intelligence, and subcortical white matter metabolism in an extended sample. Results from the original study were combined with results from a second study to create a sample comprised of 26 patients with GAD and 18 healthy volunteers. Subjects were evaluated using the Penn State Worry Questionnaire, the Wechsler Brief intelligence quotient (IQ) assessment, and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (1H-MRSI) to measure subcortical white matter metabolism of choline and related compounds (CHO). Patients with GAD exhibited higher IQ’s and lower metabolite concentrations of CHO in the subcortical white matter in comparison to healthy volunteers. When data from GAD patients and healthy controls were combined, relatively low CHO predicted both relatively higher IQ and worry scores. Relatively high anxiety in patients with GAD predicted high IQ whereas relatively low anxiety in controls also predicted high IQ. That is, the relationship between anxiety and intelligence was positive in GAD patients but inverse in healthy volunteers. The collective data suggest that both worry and intelligence are characterized by depletion of metabolic substrate in the subcortical white matter and that intelligence may have co-evolved with worry in humans.
Keywords: intelligence, anxiety, white matter, choline, magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging
Citation: Coplan JD, Hodulik S, Mathew SJ, Mao X, Hof PR, Gorman JM and Shungu DC (2012) The relationship between intelligence and anxiety: an association with subcortical white matter metabolism. Front. Evol. Neurosci. 3:8. doi: 10.3389/fnevo.2011.00008
Received: 16 May 2011; Accepted: 30 November 2011;
Published online: 01 February 2012.
Edited by:Lisa M. Renzi, The University of Georgia, USA
Reviewed by:Paul M. Nealen, Indiana University of PA, USA
Vincent Schmithorst, Children’s Hospital Medical Center, USA
Copyright: © 2012 Coplan, Hodulik, Mathew, Mao, Hof, Gorman and Shungu. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.
*Correspondence: Jeremy D. Coplan, Division of Neuropsychopharmacology, Department of Psychiatry, State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, 450 Clarkson Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11023, USA. e-mail: email@example.com