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The Neurobiology of Stress: The Stress Response Explained

(Editor’s note: below you have part 4 of the 6-part The Neurobiology of Stress series. If you are joining the series now, you can read the previous part Here.)

Stayin’  Alive

Understanding the Human Brain and How It Responds to Stress

THE STRESS RESPONSE EXPLAINED

Stress was put on the map, so to speak, by a Hungarian – born Canadian endocrinologist named Hans Hugo Bruno Selye (ZEL – yeh) in 1950, when he presented his research on rats at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association. To explain the impact of stress, Selye proposed something he called the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS), which he said had three components. According to Selye, when an organism experiences some novel or threatening stimulus it responds with an alarm reaction. This is followed by what Selye referred to as the recovery or resistance stage, a period of time during which the brain repairs itself and stores the energy it will need to deal with the next stressful event.

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The Neurobiology of Stress: The Little Brain Down Under

(Editor’s note: below you have part 3 of the 6-part The Neurobiology of Stress series. If you are joining the series now, you can read the previous part Here.)

Stayin’ Alive

Understanding the Human Brain and How It Responds to Stress

The Little Brain Down Under

The tour continues . . . Sitting under the occipital and temporal lobes of the brain is the cerebellum. It’s about the size of a child’s fist. Because it looks like a separate brainlike structure attached to the underside of the cortex, the cerebellum is sometimes referred to as the “ little brain. ” It’s connected to the brain stem, which in turn connects the brain to the spinal cord. The cerebellum used to be relegated to the very simple role of helping us maintain balance when we walk or run, but modern neuroscience has found that the cerebellum plays a much larger and more important role than that. Read the rest of this entry »

The Neurobiology of Stress: Gray Matters

(Editor’s note:  below you have part 2 of the 6-part The Neurobiology of Stress series. If you are joining the series now, you can read the previous part Here.)

Stayin’ Alive

Understanding the Human Brain and How It Responds to Stress

Gray Matters

The term gray matter usually evokes an image of the cortex, because that ’ s the part most visible in pictures of the brain.  In fact, gray matter makes up not only the cerebral cortex but also the central portion of the spinal cord and areas called the cerebellar cortex and the hippocampal cortex.  This dense tissue is packed full of neuronal cells, their dendrites (branching, root – like endings), axon terminals (the other end), and those sticky glial cells I mentioned earlier. The cortex is the area of the brain where the actual processing of information takes place.  Because of its relative size and complexity, it ’ s easy to understand why it plays a key role in memory, attention, perceptual awareness, thought, language, and consciousness.

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The Neurobiology of Stress: the Human Brain and How It Responds to Stress

 

Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.
— Erma Bombeck

The brain is the control center for all of our thoughts, actions, attitudes, and emotions. It ’ s the pilothouse on the riverboat of our lives. It’s Mission Control for all of our ? ights into space or time. It ’ s the air traf?c controller that helps us navigate and reroute our paths based on incoming and outgoing information and how we’re feeling about it at the time. It’s the John Williams of our personal symphony. It ’ s the Mother Ship to our Star?eet; it’s . . . (Uh, sorry, I got carried away there, but I think you get my point!) Read the rest of this entry »

SharpBrains Council Monthly Insights: How will we assess, enhance and repair cognition across the lifespan?

When you think of how the PC has altered the fabric of society, permitting instant access to information and automating processes beyond our wildest dreams, it is instructive to consider that much of this progress was driven by Moore’s law. Halving the size of semiconductor every 18 months catalysed an exponential acceleration in performance.

Why is this story relevant to modern neuroscience and the workings of the brain? Because transformative technological progress arises out of choice and the actions of individuals who see potential for change, and we may well be on the verge of such progress. Read the rest of this entry »

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