Stress Impacts Brain Development

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Research by a team at the University of California in Berkeley (including noted stress researcher Robert Sapolsky) published research in Molecular Psychiatry that finds chronic stress causes a decrease in neuron cell production and an increase in glial (connecting) cell production in the hippocampi of adult rats. The research has implications for how early stress causes changes that may show up as anxiety and mood disorders, according to the lead researcher.

Abstract →

Chetty, S., Friedman, A., Taravosh,-Lahn, K., Kirby, E., et al; Stress and glucocorticoids promote oligodendrogenesis in the adult hippocampus. Molecular Psychiatry. Online February 11, 2014. doi:10.1038/mp.2013.190

From Chronic Stress Generates Long-Term Changes In The Brain Which Could Lead To Mental Illness (Red Orbit)

“You can imagine that if your amygdala and hippocampus are better connected, that could mean that your fear responses are much quicker, which is something you see in stress survivors,” she said. “On the other hand, if your connections are not so good to the prefrontal cortex, your ability to shut down responses is impaired. So, when you are in a stressful situation, the inhibitory pathways from the prefrontal cortex telling you not to get stressed don’t work as well as the amygdala shouting to the hippocampus, ‘This is terrible!’ You have a much bigger response than you should.”  –

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected]