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. Zhen Yan, from the State University of New York at Buffalo. "
Dr. Yan and colleagues examined whether repeated stress had a negative influence on glutamate receptors in juvenile rats. Glutamate signaling plays a critical role in PFC function. They found that in response to repeated stress, there was a significant loss of glutamate receptors, which resulted in a deficit of PFC-mediated cognitive processes. The researchers went on to identify the molecular mechanisms that linked stress with the decrease in glutamate receptors and demonstrated that if they blocked these mechanisms, the stress-induced decrease in both glutamate receptors and recognition memory could be prevented.
Taken together, the findings identify a loss of glutamate receptors as an important target of repeated stress and link chronic stress with abnormal PFC function. "Since PFC dysfunction has been implicated in various stress-related mental disorders, delineating molecular mechanisms by which stress affects the PFC should be critical for understanding the role of stress in influencing the disease process," concludes Dr. Yan.
Cell Press: http://www.cellpress.com
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
It’s five o’clock, and your dog is excitedly wagging her tail and nuzzling against you. Your furry friend is hungry and seems to know that this is the hour you usually feed her. But was this performance a simple reaction to a rumbling in Ginger’s tummy or are canines actually able to somehow read the clock?
Birds' eggs show adaptations in pigment concentration and thickness to allow the right amount of sun for embryos, scientists say.
Experiments with a large cannon have shown that fossilised algae could have travelled to the moon intact, providing an exciting window into Earth's past
A newly discovered variant of a protein that helps protect us against cancer may trigger cancer and promote its spread around the body
A special retelling of The Tempest shows how people with autism may be able to tap into the rhythmic heart of Shakespeare's plays
Babies in the womb show evidence of learning by their 34th week, three weeks earlier than previously thought, new research has found.
New findings about the origins of a centuries-old wooden ship discovered near the site where the Twin Towers once stood
You use a whole lot more than 10% of your brain—but a common fallacy that says otherwise is nonetheless the central premise of a new movie
The string of genes that make a man a man used to be much bigger, and some geneticists say it may be wasting away. Back off, others say. Y has been stable — and crucial — for millennia.
Check out these colorful images of crystallized alcoholic beverages