Thursday, September 20, 2012

Can Stress Make You Dumb?

So does chronic stress really shrink your brain?

Research says yes. Especially in key areas associated with reasoning, decision making, emotion, and self control. 

• "Cumulative adversity (a combination of recent stressful events and the lifetime total of stressful events) was associated with smaller volume in medial prefrontal cortex (PFC), insular cortex, and subgenual anterior cingulate regions."
• "Recent stressful life events were associated with smaller volume in two clusters: the medial PFC and the right insula."
• "Life trauma (total stressful events over a lifetime) was associated with smaller volume in the medial PFC, anterior cingulate, and subgenual regions."
• "The interaction of greater subjective chronic stress and greater cumulative stressful life events was associated with smaller volume in the orbitofrontal cortex, insula, and anterior and subgenual cingulate regions.

We stress out because we thinking too much but in this instance thinking is making us fry our brains. The key might be in The Perception Gap. Learning to see the perceived risk in something in comparison to the real risk. Sometimes we blow things up in our minds and make them seem a lot worse. Such as being on the road with a drunk driver seems a lot scarier than driving drunk yourself even though driving drunk yourself is a lot riskier. It's all perception.

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