The sense of anxiety with orientation in space is 40% inherited
26.04.2017

An international group of geneticists, which included scientists from the TSU International Centre for Research in Human Development, found what spatial anxiety is associated with and why some people tend more toward it than others. One of their conclusions is that the sense of anxiety in orientation in space is 40% inherited, and 30% when objects are mentally rotated.

Sometimes people experience anxiety when faced with tasks involving a spatial component. For example, using a map, moving around the city, or rotating an object in the mind. In their work, scientists from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Russia tried to find out whether people experience spatial anxiety only when confronted with a certain type of task, why some are more worried than others, and whether they have other types of anxiety, for example, mathematics.

The study involved 1464 pairs of 18- to 20-year-old twins who are participants in the TEDS (Twins Early Development Study), a longitudinal study of the development of twins.

According to the results of the study, people can experience different types of spatial anxiety, in particular, navigation anxiety experienced when rotating or visualizing objects in the mind. Navigation anxiety is only 40% inherited, and anxiety when rotating or visualizing is 30% inherited. To a greater extent, the level of anxiety is influenced by environmental factors that are individual: extracurricular activities, different teachers, and peers.

- We found that those who are worried about moving around the city do not necessarily worry about tasks that include a spatial component, - says Marguerite Malankini, a scientist at the Royal College of London and the TSU International Centre for Research in Human Development. - The same effect is observed when anxiety occurs if necessary to solve a geometric problem or to construct a three-dimensional figure from a two-dimensional drawing.

The scientists also made another conclusion: spatial anxiety differs from mathematical and general anxiety, because environmental factors exert a greater influence on the development of these feelings than the genes. Therefore, if some people experience anxiety when the object rotates in the mind or orientation in space, this does not mean that they will worry when solving mathematical tasks.

As the scientists note, their research may be used to develop techniques by which you can reduce anxiety in schoolchildren or students. Also, the conclusions will be useful for molecular genetics, in determining the specific genes responsible for different types of anxiety in individuals.

The full text of this article in the journal Scientific Reports is available at the link.