Frederico Graeff: The Neurobiology of Panic

June 13, 2011

There are few experiences more terrifying than a panic attack. These extreme and sudden episodes of intense fear are often accompanied by physical symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress. And unless treated, recurring panic disorders can incapacitate an individual physically, mentally, and even socially.

While the exact causes of panic disorder are still the subject of intense scientific debate, the most widely accepted notion is that the periaqueductal gray area of the brain – or the PAG – is involved with the panic response, and that the neurotransmitter serotonin plays a key role in modulating this region.

In this podcast, we speak with Dr. Frederico Graeff of the University of Sao Paulo. Dr. Graeff is one of the leading experts in the scientific study of anxiety and panic. Be sure to join us as we talk about the key brain systems involved with both disorders, and what exactly differentiates panic at a neurobiological level.