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Showing posts from August, 2009

Unlearning Stress

August 18, 2009
BASICS
NEW YORK TIMES
Brain Is a Co-Conspirator in a Vicious Stress Loop
By NATALIE ANGIER

....[N]ow researchers have discovered that the sensation of being highly stressed can rewire the brain in ways that promote its sinister persistence.

...Reporting earlier this summer in the journal Science, Nuno Sousa of the Life and Health Sciences Research Institute at the University of Minho in Portugal and his colleagues described experiments in which chronically stressed rats lost their elastic rat cunning and instead fell back on familiar routines and rote responses, like compulsively pressing a bar for food pellets they had no intention of eating.

...[R]egions of the brain associated with executive decision-making and goal-directed behaviors had shriveled, while, conversely, brain sectors linked to habit formation had bloomed...

“Behaviors become habitual faster in stressed animals than in the controls, and worse, the stressed animals can’t shift back to goal-directed behavi…