Exposure to stress affects the brain, but different brain areas are vulnerable at particular times in life, shows a Review article in Nature Reviews Neuroscience. This will affect the functioning of these brain areas, leading to disorders such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Many studies have shown that exposure to chronic or severe stress has long-lasting effects on the brain, and consequently on cognition and behaviour, but the precise effects differ between studies and between individuals. Sonia Lupien and colleagues have analyzed data from studies in animals and humans and show that brain areas that are still developing, or that are undergoing age-related decline, at a particular time will be the most sensitive to a stressor occurring at that time. This has led to a model that explains why different disorders emerge in individuals who were exposed to stress at different times in their lives. The model further implies that early interventions could prevent the deleterious effects of stress.
This article is one of six articles that comprise a Focus on Stress in the June issue of Nature Reviews Neuroscience (freely available online for the month of June at www.nature.com/nrn/focus/stress).
Sonia Lupien (University of Montreal, Canada)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Reviews Neuroscience press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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