While living with a high level of anxiety is certainly no walk in the park, according to recent research it looks like there may in fact exist benefits.

Psychologists from the PSL Research University and Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris conducted research which suggests that those who suffer from higher levels of anxiety are better able to deal with potential threat than their less anxious counterparts.

With the assistance of 24 young adults who were grouped according to anxiety levels, psychologists conducted an experiment which measured an individual's brain function when faced with more than 1,000 facial images displaying varying levels of neutrality, fear and anger.

Assessing neural responses through the use of EEG, researchers established that two particular areas of the brain, the ventral face-selective and dorsal motor cortices, responded to social threat in a mere fraction of a second.

Interestingly, while both high and low levels groups responded in the same amount of time, those with higher levels of anxiety exhibited signs, through increased activity in the dorsal motor cortex, which suggests they were better prepared to respond to the possible social threat than their less anxious co-participants.

Clarifying the results, researchers confirmed that none of the study's participants had been diagnosed with clinical anxiety disorder, such as generalised anxiety, social phobia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, so psychologists were unable to ascertain whether those living with such conditions would exhibit the same responses as those with a generally heightened level of anxiety as used in the study.

The study has been published in eLife.