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The Human Brain - Stress

The Human Brain - Stress
Chronic over-secretion of stress hormones adversely affects brain function, especially memory. Too much cortisol can prevent the brain from laying down a new memory, or from accessing already existing memories. The renowned brain researcher, Robert M. Sapolsky, has shown that sustained stress can damage the hippocampus , the part of the limbic brain which is central to learning and memory. The culprits are "glucocorticoids," a class of steroid hormones secreted from the adrenal glands during stress. They are more commonly know as corticosteroids or cortisol . During a perceived threat, the adrenal glands immediately release adrenalin. topics

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Stress Cortisol Connection Fortunately, fitness professional are already doing many physical activities to help their clients manage stress. Many types of aerobic and anaerobic exercise have been shown to be effective interventions in reducing or managing stress. Some of the popular ‘mindful’ exercise programs such as yoga and Tai Chi (or Tai Chi Chaun) are also recommended for stress management. Meditation, progressive relaxation, deep breathing, and visualization are methods that can be effective in decreasing stress-induced symptoms. Also, eating right and getting enough rest should be incorporated in a stress management plan for life. Eye movements reveal unconscious memory retrieval : Neurophilosophy THIS short film clip shows two images of the same scene. Watch it carefully, and see if you can spot the subtle differences between them. As you watch, your eyes will dart back and forth across the images, so that you can perceive the most important features. And even though you might not be consciously aware of the differences, your brain will have picked up on them.

The depression map: genes, culture, serotonin, and a side of pathogens Maps can tell surprising stories. About a year ago, Northwestern University psychologist Joan Chiao pondered a set of global maps that confounded conventional notions of what depression is, why we get it, and how genes — the so-called “depression gene” in particular — interact with environment and culture. So she gathered it. Chiao and one of her grad students, Katherine Blizinsky, found all the papers they could that studied serotonin or depression in East Asian populations. These papers, along with similar studies in other countries and some World Health Organization data on mental health, painted a pretty good picture of short-SERT variant and depression rates not just in North American and Europe, but in East Asia. A pretty good picture — but seemingly twisted in the middle.

Cortisol and Stress: How Cortisol Affects Your Body, and How To Stay Healthy in the Face of Stress Cortisol is an important hormone in the body, secreted by the adrenal glands and involved in the following functions and more: Proper glucose metabolism Regulation of blood pressure Insulin release for blood sugar maintanence Immune function Inflammatory response Normally, it’s present in the body at higher levels in the morning, and at its lowest at night. Although stress isn’t the only reason that cortisol is secreted into the bloodstream, it has been termed “the stress hormone” because it’s also secreted in higher levels during the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response to stress, and is responsible for several stress-related changes in the body. Small increases of cortisol have some positive effects:

Neurostress: How Stress May Fuel Neurodegenerative Diseases In 2007, James Watson eyed his genome for the very first time. Through more than 50 years of scientific and technological advancement, Watson saw the chemical structure he once helped unravel now fused into a personal genetic landscape laid out before him. Yet there was a small stretch of nucleic acids on chromosome 19 that he preferred to leave uncovered, a region that coded the apolipoprotein E gene. APOE, as it’s called, has been a telling genetic landmark of Alzheimer’s risk, strongly correlated to the disease since the early 90s. Watson’s grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s, and without any reasonable treatments or suitable preventive strategies, the father of DNA decided the information was too volatile, its revelation creating more potential harm than good. Watson’s apprehension was warranted.

Partial Recall: Why Memory Fades with Age As we age, it becomes harder and harder to recall names, dates—even where we put down our keys. Although we may fear the onset of Alzheimer's, chances are, our recollective powers have dulled simply because we're getting older—and our brains, like our bodies, are no longer in tip-top shape. But what is it that actually causes memory and other cognitive abilities to go soft with senescence? Previous research has shown that bundles of axons (tubular projections sent out by neurons to signal other nerve cells) wither over time. These conduits, collectively referred to as white matter, help connect different regions of the brain to allow for proper information processing.

Bodily motions influence memory and emotions : Neurophilosophy WHEN talking about our feelings, we often use expressions that link emotions with movements or positions in space. If, for example, one receives good news, they might say that their “spirit soared”, or that they are feeling “on top of the world”. Conversely, negative emotions are associated with downward movements and positions – somebody who is sad is often said to be “down in the dumps”, or feeling “low”. According to a new study published in this month’s issue of the journal Cognition, expressions such as these are not merely metaphorical. The research provides evidence of a causal link between motion and emotion, by showing that bodily movements influence the recollection of emotional memories, as well as the speed with which they are recalled.

Ancient origins of the cerebral cortex Just how special is the human brain? Compared to other mammals, the thing that stands out most is the size of the cerebral cortex – the thick sheet of cells on the outside of the brain, which is so expanded in humans that it has to be folded in on itself in order to fit inside the skull. The cortex is the seat of higher brain functions, the bit of the brain we see with, hear with, think with. How Stress Affects the Brain and Body It Ages You Scientists have discovered that the tips of your chromosomes, your telomeres are affected by chronic stress. Simply put, the healthier your telomeres, the easier it is for your cells to divide and replenish every area of your body, from bones to brain. Think of a telomere as a Q-tip with a protective cotton end. Over time the cotton tip naturally wears away depending on how often and vigorously it is used - whether it's used to clean a delicate inner ear or a hard-to-reach greasy spot on your stove top.

Sexual orientation – wired that way In a recent post, I presented the evidence that sexual preference is strongly influenced by genetic variation. Here, I discuss the neurobiological evidence that shows that the brains of homosexual men and women are wired differently from those of their heterosexual counterparts. First, we must consider the differences between the brains of heterosexual males and females. These differences are extensive and arise mainly due to the influence of testosterone during a critical period of early development (see Wired for Sex). They include, not surprisingly, differences in the number of neurons in specific regions of the brain involved in reproductive or sexual behaviours as well as differences in the number of nerve fibres connecting these areas.

Top 5 Ways to Lower Your Financial Stress" If fear of making the "wrong" choices about your finances has left you mired in indecision, imagine how people who think they have no choice at all must feel. John Caskey, an economics professor at Swarthmore College, interviewed residents in two of America's poorest communities. "They instead talked about the stress," he said.