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The brain and stress

Throughout life, the connections between neurons in the brain develop and change according to the genetic foundations that the individual inherits from the parents, and the environmental influences to which the individual must respond. For example, the abundance of one type of neuron over another, and the neurotransmitter that each produces can be predetermined by the DNA an individual inherits. However, an individual who is exposed to chronic stress during developmental years may reinforce some response pathways more than individuals who do not experience the same patterns of stress. These points are summarized and explained further in this article "Stress Management," provided by the Mayo Clinic. Read this brief article before continuing to the requirements for this SLP.

Continue your reading on how the brain handles stress and the idea of plasticity at BrainFacts.org, a public information initiative of the Society for Neuroscience, The Kavli Foundation, and Gatsby. Read the article, "How does the brain handle long-term stress?" and follow the link to the article, "Effects of Stress on the Developing Brain" in the right-hand column of links provided on this page.
Address these questions in paragraph format:
1. What is a neurotransmitter and what is its function?
2. What neurotransmitter is mentioned in the article, "How does the brain handle long-term stress?"
3. How is short-term stress described in this article?
4. Do a little independent research on the hippocampus. Where is it located in the brain? Briefly describe its function and neurogenesis. Insert a labeled picture into your assignment illustrating its location.
5. How is long-term stress differentiated from short-term stress in this article? What brain region is involved in this comparison and what is its general function? Insert a labeled picture of this region into your assignment illustrating its location in the brain.
6. After reading the article "Effects of Stress on the Developing Brain," explain the implications of chronic stress on the brain and the rest of the body reported by the authors. What examples of chronic stressors are included?
7. What components of parental care are described as being important determinants of brain development in this article? What genetic influences are described as relevant to the ability to handle stressful environments?
***Provide References

Solution Preview

1. What is a neurotransmitter and what is its function?

A neurotransmitter is a chemical that carries messages through our brain and body. The function of a neurotransmitter is to relay signals between neuron (i.e. nerve cells); signals from the brain tell our heart, lungs, stomach, and other parts of our bodies, what to do.

2. What neurotransmitter is mentioned in the article, "How does the brain handle long-term stress?"

The article mentions the neurotransmitter called dopamine.

3. How is short-term stress described in this article?

The article describes short-term stress as stimulation. This type of stress causes our hippocampal cells to become more active, and increases the amount of dopamine in the brain's reward pathway. This led us to feel good and pleasurable.

4. Do a little independent research on the hippocampus. Where is it located in the brain? Briefly describe its function and neurogenesis. Insert a labeled picture into your assignment illustrating its location.

The hippocampus is located in the medial temporal lobe of the brain, adjacent to the amygdala. The function of the hippocampus is to aid in forming, organizing and storing memories. It links our ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses stress and the brain in 534 words. A figure of the brain is attached, showing the relevant areas.

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