Neuroscience of Anxiety in the Bright Brain


Keep in mind, the label of being “gifted” carries a great weight of expectation for success, so guiding a child to balance expectations is paramount.  Provide safety and compassion for failure, mistakes, and mishaps, which are the key components of a growth mindset and resilience.  Communicate about anxiety and fears and listen to what your child has to say.  Breaking the silence reduces social isolation and minimizes the stigma associated with anxiety.  Fred Rogers said, “I’m convinced that when we help our children find healthy ways of dealing with their feelings, ways that don’t hurt them or anyone else, we’re helping to make our world a safer, better place.”

Cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective remedy, especially when focused on integrating the mind-body connection.

Mindfulness practices focused on self-compassion can lead to reduced symptoms of anxiety and greater understanding of self and others.  Breathing exercises to calm the nervous system are effective by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, and releasing positive neurochemicals that reduce the stress response.  “Anxiety is fear of fear held in our imagination,” as my dear friend, the late Sam Christensen, said.  A recent study found that positive imagination reduces fear.  Guiding a child to activate their positive imagination may help them cope with their anxiety.  Regular exercise of twenty minutes a day, healthy sleep routines, and mindful eating habits can rewire healthy mind and body patterns and circuitry.  When we support the mind, body, and spirit of the child, the child is unbound and thrives.



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Karpinski, R. I., Kinase Kolb, A. M., Tetreault, N. A., & Borowski, T. B. (2017). High intelligence: A risk factor for psychological and physiological overexcitabilities. Intelligence.

Ohtani T, Nestor PG, Bouix S, Newell D, Melonakos ED, McCarley RW, Shenton ME, Kubicki M. 2017. Exploring the neural substrates of attentional control and human intelligence: Diffusion tensor imaging of prefrontal white matter tractography in healthy cognition. Neuroscience. 2017 Jan 26(341)52-60.

Reddan MC, Wager TD, Schiller D. Attenuating Neural Threat Expression with Imagination. Neuron. 2018 Nov 21;100(4):994-1005.e4. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2018.10.047.

James T. Webb, Ph.D., ABPP-Cl, Edward R. Amend, Psy.D., Paul Beljan, Psy.D., ABPdN, Nadia E. Webb, Psy.D., Marianne Kuzujanakis M.D., M.P.H., F. Richard Olenchak, Ph.D., Jean Goerss, M.D. 2016. Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children and Adults ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger’s, Depression, and Other Disorders (2nd edition). Tucson (AZ): Great Potential Press.


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Neuroscience of Anxiety in the Bright Brain

Dr. Nicole A. Tetreault is a neuroscientist, researcher, author, and speaker who specializes in neurodevelopment and neurodegenerative disorders. She received her Ph.D. from California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in neuroscience. As the founder of Awesome Neuroscience, she is dedicated to translating the promise of neuroscience and positive psychology for people to live the best quality of life.  Dr. Tetreault has authored many peer-reviewed scientific papers on the topics of gifted experience, inflammation in autism, brain evolution, neuroanatomy, neuroinflammation, brain development, behavior, and cell function.  Most recently, she has focused her efforts on studying the gifted experience, which encompasses the brain and body connection, by investigating the latest neuroscience and physiology research.  Her forthcoming book on the neuroscience of giftedness and the gifted experience, Feeling Color: Insight into a Bright Mind, will be released by Great Potential Press in 2019.Visit Websites