Child & Brain Development
The brain on stress: How the social environment “gets under the skin”
The brain is the central organ of stress and adaptation. Brain circuits are remodeled by stress so as to change the balance between anxiety, mood control, memory and decision making.
Such changes are adaptive in danger but their persistence can be maladaptive. Besides early life experiences, the most potent of stressors are those arising from the social environment that can affect both brain and body. Gradients of socioeconomic status reflect the cumulative burden of coping with limited resources, toxic environments and negative life events as well as health-damaging behaviours, and resulting chronic activation of physiological systems.
A presentation by Bruce McEwen (The Rockefeller University), at CIFAR's From Cell to Society symposium Feb. 6, 2014.