Differences in Ability to Cope with Stress
A study published in Frontiers in Neural Circuits, undertook the task of understanding the difference between individuals and how they cope with stress and why some do it better than others. Scientists found that the answer lies in the brain. They looked at the brains of mice who were put under stress and found that mice that showed helpless behavior had vastly different brain activity from those displaying resilient behavior.
The researchers note that overall, “Mice showing ‘helpless’ behavior had an overall brain-wide reduction in the level of neuronal activation compared with mice showing ‘resilient’ behavior. In addition, the helpless mice showed a strong trend of having higher similarity in whole-brain activity profile among individuals, suggesting that helplessness is represented by a more stereotypic brain-wide activation pattern.”
Interestingly, the researchers found that one region of the brain that had significantly less activity in the helpless mice was the prefrontal cortex that has been associated with organizing our thoughts and actions, and which has been implicated in mood or anxiety disorders. That helpless group also showed lower brain activation in areas vital for processing emotion and motivation, areas important for defensive behavior, those key for stress coping and those associated with learning and memory.
One area of the brain lit up more in the helpless mice that play a significant role in stress-induced depression. This needs to be studied further. This research can be built upon to create therapies for depression.
Razi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review (ndnr.com) and NaturalPath (thenatpath.com), has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self-proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.