Stress reduction and the brain
Professor Bruce McEwen describes steps that can reduce stress, including sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet. The brain is the central organ of stress and differentiates positive, tolerable, and toxic stress.
Well, letâ€™s talk a little about what we mean by stress, because I think itâ€™s important. Weâ€™ve got positive stress, when you have a sense of exhilaration in it for a challenge, and you generally can achieve what you want to do. Then you have tolerable stress, where something really bad happens, but you can weather the storm because you have good social support mechanisms, you have good resilience, you have a good sense of self-esteem, and so forth, and you can get through it. Then you have whatâ€™s called toxic stress, which, just as it implies, causes damage or pathophysiology, because youâ€™re not in a position where you can handle it. Youâ€™re out of control â€“ sense of control, you donâ€™t have support systems, and itâ€™s a self-generating situation, where you may eat too many of the wrong things, smoke, drink, not sleep very well, as well as feel anxious and stressed out every day, and these wear and tear on the body and brain, and cause the dysregulation of, for example, too much cortisol or too little cortisol. A lot of inflammatory products, a lot of sympathetic activation, so a lot of adrenaline, not enough of the parasympathetic system, which tends to slow the heart down and quell inflammation. That dysregulation can lead, over long periods of time, to something that we call allostatic load, which is a wear and tear on the body, and what can help it? Well, physical activity is very beneficial, because it helps to rebalance the system. Getting a good nightâ€™s sleep, which is sometimes easier said than done if youâ€™re worried, is also a very beneficial activity. Controlling diet, of course we all know that controlling that, controlling alcohol and smoking and things of that sort, and, above all else, having good social support, not becoming isolated, all of these things are things that the brain processes. I mean, in a sense, the brain is the central organ of stress, and what we think and how we feel, especially if weâ€™re optimistic, pessimistic, if we feel totally stressed out and out of control, determines the balance of all of these physiologic systems that, over time, can do us in, basically.
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- ID: 2208
- Source: DNALC.G2C
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2218. Parasympathetic systems, risk, and the brain
Professor Bruce McEwen describes how the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex mediate the parasympathetic system, which is associated with risk-taking.
2217. The amygdala - fear and stress response
Professor Bruce McEwen discusses how the amygdala is involved in processing fear and stress.
2207. Blood-brain barrier
Professor Bruce McEwen describes the blood-brain barrier, which prevents most proteins from accessing the brain. Selective proteins can cross the barrier, instigating processes such as neurogenesis.
2205. Endocrine system and neuroendocrinology
Professor Bruce McEwen describes the endocrine system, which regulates hormones, the autonomic nervous and immune systems.
801. Environment and Alzheimer's Disease
Researchers shed new light on how diet, exercise, red wine consumption, and stress may lower or raise disease risk.
2206. Endocrine system - functions
Professor Bruce McEwen describes some of the key players in the endocrine system - hypothalamus, pituitary gland, adrenal cortex, sex glands, and hormones.
2214. Early-life experience - stimulation
Professor Bruce McEwen notes that stimulation during early life can lead to a better cognitive outcome.
2216. Dendritic remodeling
Professor Bruce McEwen discusses the remodeling of dendrites, which are affected by BDNF, TPA, cell-adhesion molecules, and a number of other factors.
2211. Resilience, stress, and plasticity
Professor Bruce McEwen describes the interplay between reilience and stress, which can cause the brain to shrink or grow.
2036. Lifestyle factors and Alzheimer's disease prevention
Professor Kenneth Kosik discusses lifestyle factors that will delay onset of Alzheimer’s disease. These include diet, exercise, controlling hypertension, and not smoking.