In Unstable Times, Brain Reduces Cell Production to Help Cope

People who experience job loss, divorce, death of a loved one or any number of life’s upheavals often adopt coping mechanisms to make the situation less traumatic. While these strategies manifest as behaviors, a Princeton University and National Institutes of Health study suggests that our response to stressful situations originates from structural changes in our brain that allow us to adapt to turmoil. A study conducted with adult rats showed that the brains of animals faced with disruptions in their social hierarchy produced far fewer new neurons in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for certain types of memory and stress regulation. Rats exhibiting this lack of brain-cell growth, or neurogenesis, reacted to the surrounding upheaval by favoring the company of familiar rats over that of unknown rats,…


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