We are living a stressful life, there is no denying it. Yet, while the abstract impression of stress is pervasive and apparently an unpreventable component of the Human Brain, there’s still a lot we don’t comprehend about how our darker sentiments come to fruition.
At the point when we experience physiological pressure –, for example, such as pain, hunger, or some other immediate, physical stressor – the nerve center triggers the creation of hormones called glucocorticoids from our adrenal organs, assisting with interceding our pressure reaction.
In any case, shouldn’t something be said about abstract pressure, which we may somehow or another consider as passionate or mental pressure: where do those negative sentiments, nervousness, and premonition exist in the mind?
According to stanford expert
The first direct evidence that stress can shrink a crucial part of the human brain is being compiled by scientists using new, high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, according to a Stanford expert on stress and the brain.
In a review article in the Aug. 9 edition of the journal Science, biological sciences Professor Robert Sapolsky said that the work of several research groups shows links between long-term stressful life experiences, long-term exposure to hormones produced during stress, and shrinking of the part of the brain involved in some types of memory and learning.
Sapolsky studies the effects of stress and stress hormones on wild baboons in Africa and on rats in his Stanford laboratory. He is the author of a popular book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, on the physiology of the stress response.
He said that for 20 years, he and other stress physiologists have wished for a direct way to study the effects of stress on the human brain.
Research by Sapolsky and others has shown that some of those hormones, called glucocorticoids, spell bad news when brain cells are exposed to them for a long time at least in the brains of rats.
Glucocorticoids can cause rats’ brain cells to shrivel, as the dendrite branches that they use to communicate with other neurons wither away.
Prolonged exposure can kill the neurons or make them vulnerable to destruction during a brain injury or stroke.
The researchers also know that long-term exposure to stress hormones is a fact of life for some animals.
Studying a troop of wild baboons, Sapolsky has shown that the same glucocorticoids that flood the bloodstream during a stressful event remain at high levels for months or years if the baboon has a stressful life for example, if he’s always in fear of an attack by the dominant male in his troop.
The parallels are obvious with stressful human lives. But there has been no way to poke inside the living human brain and see if our neurons are more robust than a rat’s, or if stress hormones actually can damage our brains.
Clear image using MRI
Now, thanks to improvements in MRI, researchers can make clear images of specific parts of the brain.
In his Science article, titled “Why Stress Is Bad for Your Brain,” Sapolsky summarizes what has been found so far as scientists tune up high-resolution MRI to take pictures of the hippocampus.
While we still have a lot to learn about how the hippocampus regulates stress – not to mention other neurobiological mechanisms that are also expected to contribute – the researchers say the discovery of these functional neural networks could one day help in developing future treatments for stress.
“These findings may help us tailor the therapeutic intervention to multiple targets, such as increasing the strength of the connections from the hippocampus to the frontal cortex or decreasing the signaling to the physiological stress centers,” explains senior researcher and neuroscientist Rajita Sinha.