STRESS: Chemical cascade radically changes brain
August 06, 2019 • 1 min read
-- There’s more to stress hormones than simply associated downstream behaviours known as fight (facing up to the threat) or flight (fleeing to safety).
A swag of research links noradrenaline – the principal stress hormone – to changes in brain connectivity. However, it seems we’ve underestimated the effects, especially in the part of our brain that sits at the centre of anxiety disorders: the amygdala.
Studying brain scans of mice, researchers discovered noradrenaline rewires the brain to allow different networks to instantly cross-communicate. More than simply facilitating communication, the flood of noradrenalin restructures neural connections processing sensory stimuli.
Researchers posit that if noradrenaline rewires the human brain as it appears to rewire the brains of mice, it’s possible the long-term effects of stress are more profound than we realise.
The research begs for further investigation to better understand how stress effects the brain, which could lead to a better understanding of anxiety – now the most prevalent mental health disorder worldwide.
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