Anyone who has ever been subject to chronic stress knows that it can take a toll on emotions and the ability to think clearly. Now, new research uncovers a neural mechanism that directly links repeated stress with impaired memory. The study, published by Cell Press in the March 8 issue of the journal Neuron, also provides critical insight into why stress responses can act as a trigger for many mental illnesses. Stress hormones are known to influence the prefrontal cortex (PFC), a brain region that controls high level "executive" functions such as working memory and decision making. "Previous work has shown that chronic stress impairs PFC-mediated behaviors, like mental flexibility and attention. However, little is known about the physiological consequences and molecular targets of long-term stress in PFC, especially during the adolescent period when the brain is more sensitive to stressors, " explains the author this study, Dr.
A small study found that people's subconscious racial bias is considerably reduced if they are taking propranolol, a heart disease drug, researchers from Oxford University wrote in the journal Psychopharmacology. The study was carried out by a team of psychologists, ethicists and psychiatrists. Lead author, Sylvia Terbeck and team carried out an experiment on 36 individuals. 18 were given propranolol, while the other 18 took a placebo that looked just like the propranolol. They found that those on the heart medication scored considerably lower on the Implicit Attitude Test which gauged their subconscious racial bias. The test measures people's levels of subconscious racism. The authors stressed that propranolol made no difference in people's explicit attitudes to races. What is propranolol (INN) Propranolol is a medication used for treating hypertension, anxiety and panic - a sympatholytic drug.
Sweating in the gym, surrounded by others, pounding to the beat in group exercise class has become the norm for many women. But when it comes to the experience of changing in the locker room, the acts of disrobing, dressing, showering and being naked in front of others, can be very discomfiting. It's a complex experience as women are faced with an awareness of their bodies different than in any other space. "I walk into the change room and pace anxiously up and down the rows of lockers. I look for an empty aisle, hoping for some semblance of privacy. I don't like to change in front of others, it makes me uneasy. Perhaps I'm uptight. Or maybe I have what experts would call 'body issues.' But either way changing in public cause me stress ." So begins a new study looking at women's experiences of changing in a public change rooms.
A new book by a University of New Hampshire researcher and Vietnam-era disabled veteran sheds new light on the long-term psychological trauma experienced by the coalition force in recent wars in the Gulf and Balkans that, when left untreated, can have deadly consequences. In his new book "War Trauma and its Aftermath: An International Perspective on the Balkan and Gulf Wars" (University Press of America, 2012), Laurence French, senior research associate at UNH Justiceworks, and co-author Lidija Nikolic-Novakovic, a Balkan War survivor, detail how the Gulf and Balkan wars added new dimensions to the traditional definition of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, largely due to the changing dynamics of these wars. The research is so significant that the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo has added the book to its library.
Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have shown for the first time how brain function differs in people who have math anxiety from those who don't. A series of scans conducted while second- and third-grade students did addition and subtraction revealed that those who feel panicky about doing math had increased activity in brain regions associated with fear, which caused decreased activity in parts of the brain involved in problem-solving. "The same part of the brain that responds to fearful situations, such as seeing a spider or snake, also shows a heightened response in children with high math anxiety, " said Vinod Menon, PhD, the Stanford professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences who led the research. In their new study, which published online in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Menon's team performed functional magnetic resonance imaging brain scans on 46 second- and third-grade students with low and high math anxiety.