City Living Stresses Your Brain Out


An international study has proven what many a New Yorker has had an inkling of for a long while: People who live or were raised in cities are different. The study, conducted by researchers at University of Heidelberg and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute at McGill University, found that city residents had “differences in activity in certain brain regions than those who aren’t city dwellers.” For one, they had higher activation in the amygdala, the part of the brain that regulates anxiety and fear; this is also the part of the brain you use in situations of stress or threat.

Additionally, people who had lived in cities in their first 15 years of life had increased activation in the anterior cingulate, which is another regulator of stress, and that makes them alert to stress situations via that part of the brain for their entire lives, even if they move away to the country. The researchers think, logically, that the stress of city living makes for these higher stress-related brain responses.

Science says: If you live in a city, you will be stressy. But if you live elsewhere, you will be bored. Solution: stay put, do yoga, drink wine. The end.

Stressed in the City: How Urban Life May Change Your Brain [Time]