Simply mentioning words such as "wheeze" can activate the brains of asthma patients, researchers have discovered, shedding light on the emotional underpinnings of the disease.
The study of six patients found that asthma patients have extra brain activity in an area called the anterior cingulate cortex, which is associated with emotional responses. The findings suggest that the brains of people with asthma may overreact to emotional and physiological signals related to their disease, the researchers said.
Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and colleagues said their findings could help explain why asthma attacks in response to allergens can worsen during stressful times. The study was published in the Aug. 30 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.