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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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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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