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Arnsten AFT. Stress signaling pathways that impair prefrontal cortex structure and function. Nat Res Neurosci 10: 410-422

Department of Neurobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, USA.
Nature Reviews Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 31.38). 07/2009; 10(6):410-22. DOI: 10.1038/nrn2648
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The prefrontal cortex (PFC) - the most evolved brain region - subserves our highest-order cognitive abilities. However, it is also the brain region that is most sensitive to the detrimental effects of stress exposure. Even quite mild acute uncontrollable stress can cause a rapid and dramatic loss of prefrontal cognitive abilities, and more prolonged stress exposure causes architectural changes in prefrontal dendrites. Recent research has begun to reveal the intracellular signalling pathways that mediate the effects of stress on the PFC. This research has provided clues as to why genetic or environmental insults that disinhibit stress signalling pathways can lead to symptoms of profound prefrontal cortical dysfunction in mental illness.

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    • "• Researchers could develop treatments that target withdrawal symptoms and stress-related pathology, such as stress-induced craving and alcohol seeking, implicated by the alcohol-related neuroadaptations in the PSL circuit. For instance, alpha1-adrenergic antagonists, such as Prazosin, show promise for improving stress-induced deficits and impaired PFC function from chronic stress (for a review, see Arnsten 2009). This drug also reduces alcohol withdrawal symptoms and stress-related alcohol seeking in animals (Kukolja et al. 2011; Walker et al. 2008) and improves stress and alcohol cue– induced craving and alcohol use outcomes in humans (Fox et al. 2012; Simpson et al. 2009). "
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    Alcohol research : current reviews 09/2015; 37(1):143-152.
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    • "There is an emerging consensus that factors at a range of levels in interaction with each other make the largest contribution to modifying the impact of stressful environments on children's development (Cicchetti & Garmezy 1993; Cicchetti & Sroufe, 1987; Luthar, et al., 2000; Sameroff, 1983; Schoon, 2012). So, for instance, research is exploring the impact of neighbourhood characteristics and chronic adversity upon children's brain development (Arnsten, 2009; Gunnar, 2007; National Research Council & Institute of Medicine, 2000), as well as the interaction between different types and amounts of risks and outcomes (Taylor, et al., 2002) and the ways in which both risk and resilience may vary depending on culture and context (Ungar, 2008). The emphasis on processes and contexts inevitably calls for a conceptualisation of resilience that is culturally sensitive (Ungar, 2011, p. 8). "
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    DESCRIPTION: This paper explores the development of ideas concerning how children who are exposed to risk and adversity can achieve good outcomes. It considers the contribution which developments in the concept of resilience have made to the knowledge base as well as developments in our understanding of the role of service systems in supporting children and youth to overcome challenges confronted on the pathway to adulthood.
    • "Previous studies on the neuroendocrine and behavioral consequences of stress suggest that acute stress could affect choices requiring self-control in at least two ways. Stress has been claimed to impair prefrontal functions such as directing attention and inhibiting inappropriate actions, which would be fundamental for goal-based control of actions and self-control (Arnsten, 2009; Starcke and Brand, 2012). At the same time, stress has been reported to amplify craving or wanting signals that might bias an individual toward choosing immediately rewarding options (Adam and Epel, 2007; Pruessner et al., 2004; Sinha et al., 1999). "
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    ABSTRACT: Important decisions are often made under stressful circumstances that might compromise self-regulatory behavior. Yet the neural mechanisms by which stress influences self-control choices are unclear. We investigated these mechanisms in human participants who faced self-control dilemmas over food reward while undergoing fMRI following stress. We found that stress increased the influence of immediately rewarding taste attributes on choice and reduced self-control. This choice pattern was accompanied by increased functional connectivity between ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and amygdala and striatal regions encoding tastiness. Furthermore, stress was associated with reduced connectivity between the vmPFC and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex regions linked to self-control success. Notably, alterations in connectivity pathways could be dissociated by their differential relationships with cortisol and perceived stress. Our results indicate that stress may compromise self-control decisions by both enhancing the impact of immediately rewarding attributes and reducing the efficacy of regions promoting behaviors that are consistent with long-term goals. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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