The Effects of Stress On Brain Function

When a situation is perceived as unpleasant or dangerous, a general response to stress is taking place in our body. Depending on the situation and previous experience, the individual will adopt a behavioral response to try control the situation. This is commonly knowns as the fight or flight response. From the perception of danger to the secretion of hormones the brain prepares the body to deal with it, putting into play: 1) the limbic system, 2) the hypothalamus, 3) the pituitary and 4) the adrenal glands. They secrete glucocorticoids (such as cortisol in humans, for example) which will interact with serotonin receptors of the brain. When someone experiences a stressful event, blood glucocorticoid levels increase. Stress causes activation of the hypothalamus, which then secretes the hormone CRH (for "corticotropin-releasing hormone"). This...