The stress response facilitates our ability to deal effectively with threatening situations, but exposure to severe or chronic stressors can lead to undesirable neural, physiological, and behavioral outcomes. Chronic stress is associated with structural changes in the rat hippocampus, with corresponding deficits in learning and memory. Recent studies have uncovered an inherent neuroplasticity that allows the hippocampus to recover from these stress-induced neural changes. Underlying mechanisms likely involve several different cellular and molecular pathways.
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