Stress and Plasticity
The brain is the central organ for stress, and adaptation to stress; it perceives threats, and determines the physiological and behavioral reactions to be given against it. The brain of an adult has an extraordinary ability, as well as being developed.
These abilities include the brain showing structural and functional plasticity as a response to stressful experiences, including neural replacement, dendritic remodeling, synaptic cycle.
The structural plasticity ability of the brain
This is apparent in the hippocampus in which three types of structural plasticity are acknowledged and researched through the use of a combination of the morphological, pharmacological, electrophysiological, and behavioral approaches. At the same time, the new data related to the regions of the brain, which include the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, anxiety, fear, mood, cognitive functions, and behavioral control, have shown that the brain of an adult has, in fact, the reversible structural plasticity ability, and that it is a moldable and adaptable structure.
The negative effects of acute and chronic stress
Acute and chronic stress causes imbalance in the neural circuit, which can increase or decrease the expression of the behaviors and supports the cognition, decision-making, anxiety, and mood. For instance, an increasing fear, uneasiness, and anxiety can become adaptive in a short while in a threatening setting; nevertheless, if the danger passes and the behavioral situation remains, then this is some sort of dissonance. Such nonadaptive reactions may require intervention through a combination of pharmacological and behavioral therapies, as it is in mood and anxiety disorders.
Stress and brain development
Stressful experiences that one lives through at the early stages of life have long-term effects on the development of the brain. Furthermore, they may affect the individual’s capacity to react to stressful situations in life. The regulation of the neuroendocrine, autonomic, metabolic, and immune system functions, as well as negative experiences at early ages, may have comprehensive effects on the adult systemic and behavioral pathophysiology due to the brain’s central role in the systemic physiology.
– McEwen, B. S., Eiland, L., Hunter, R. G., & Miller, M. M. (2012). Stress and anxiety: Structural plasticity and epigenetic regulation as a consequence of stress. Neuropharmacology, 62(1), 3–12. doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2011.07.014