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The link of Life Event Stress and Working Memory Capacity

Stress is no fun. Chronic stress can bring abot a wear and tera of one's physical as well as mental . Experiencing chronic stress day after day is also believed to impact one's learning and emotion.

Now a new study from buffalao university has stated that experiencing short stressful events may possibly have the ability to boost one's learning and memory.

An analysis on rat models was believes to have shown that acute stress can enhance brain functions, via the effect of the stress hormone corticosterone on the brain's prefrontal cortex. Seemingly, the effect of the corticosterone (cortisol in humans) stress hormone on the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which crucial to controlling learning and emotions, was notes to have brought about the positive effect of acute stress on learning and memory.

The researchers specifically showed that acute stress increases transmission of the neurotransmitter glutamate, and improves working memory.

Study author Zhen Yan, profesor of physiology and biophysics at unniversuty at buffalo, says, Stress hormones have both protective and damaging effects on the body. This paper and others we have in the pipeline explain why we need stress to perform better, but don't want to be stressed. “

In order to test the effect of acute stress on working memory Scientists trained rats in a maze until they could complete it correctly 60 to 70 percent of the time. When the rodents reached this level of accuracy for two consecutive days, half were put through a 20-minute forced swim which served as acute stress, and and then were challenged with the maze again.

According to the results, the stressed rats made significantly fewer mistakes as they went through the maze both four hours after the stressful experience and one day post-stress, compared to the non-stressed rats.

To determine if the corticosterone neuropathway was responsible for the improved memory, as proposed, researchers injected one group of rats before the forced swim with a medicinal compound that blocks the action of the stress hormone, and injected another group with saline. Results showed that the saline group performed better in the maze than the blocked group.

The researchers also determined that the stressful experience did not increase or -related behavior in the animals.

It is known that stress has both positive and negative actions in the brain, but the underlying mechanism is elusive. Several key brain regions involved in cognition and emotions, including the prefrontal cortex, have been identified as the primary target of corticosteroid, the major stress hormone, said Yan.

He added: Our current study identifies a novel mechanism that underlies the impact of acute stress on working memory, a cognitive process depending on glutamate receptor-mediated excitatory signals in prefrontal cortex circuits.

In addition, noted Yan, we have discovered that chronic stress suppresses the transmission of glutamate in the prefrontal cortex of male rodents — which is opposite to the facilitating effect of acute stress and that estrogen receptors in female rodents make them more resilient to chronic stress than male rats.

All these studies has been published in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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