Let's talk aboutFear of Public Speaking & Genetics

How it works 

When the brain senses a threat in the environment, a part of the brain called the amygdala responds by activating the “fight or flight” response. This response includes many biological changes, like a faster heart rate and increased blood flow to the brain. Studies have found that when speaking in front of others, people with a fear of public speaking may have more active amygdalas.

A person speaking in front of others experiencing an increase in heart rate and an increase in blood flow to the brain.

The genetics behind the fear of public speaking

23andMe researchers identified 802 genetic markers that are associated with having a fear of public speaking. In addition to genetics, other factors like age, sex, and ancestry can also influence one’s chances of having a fear of public speaking.  

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For those with a fear of public speaking, preparation and practice can help. Some people may benefit from talking to a healthcare professional.

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Want to learn more? 23andMe’s Health + Ancestry Service can give you a closer look at the genetic variants that affect the fear of public speaking. Order now and you’ll receive 150+ personalized reports with insights on your health, wellness, traits and more.

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Furlotte NA et al. (2015). “23andMe White Paper 23-12: Estimating complex phenotype prevalence using predictive models.” 23andMe White Paper 23-12.

Kozlowska K et al. (2015). “Fear and the Defense Cascade: Clinical Implications and Management.” Harv Rev Psychiatry. 23(4):263-87.

Mayo Clinic (2017, May 17). “Fear of public speaking: how can I overcome it?” Retrieved May 23, 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/specific-phobias/expert-answers/fear-of-public-speaking/faq-20058416

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Shin LM et al. (2010). “The neurocircuitry of fear, stress, and anxiety disorders.” Neuropsychopharmacology. 35(1):169-91.

Tillfors M et al. (2001). “Cerebral blood flow in subjects with social phobia during stressful speaking tasks: a PET study.” Am J Psychiatry. 158(8):1220-6.