Cortisol, Nucleus Accumbens, Executive discussed on TED Radio Hour - Hardwired

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

How exposure to early adversity affects the developing brain some bodies of children it affects areas like the nucleus accumbens the pleasure and reward center of the brain that is implicated in substance dependence it inhibits the prefrontal cortex which is necessary for impulse control an executive function a critical area for learning and on mri scans we see measurable differences in the mid dillah the brain's fear response centre so there are real neurologic reasons why folks exposed to high doses of adversity are more likely to engage in high risk behavior and that's important to know but it turns out that even if you don't engage in any high risk behavior you're still more likely to develop heart disease or cancer the reason for this has to do with the hypothesis hamik patou itary adrenal axis the brains and bodies stress response system that governs our fight or flight response how does that work well imagine you're walking in the forest and you see a bear immediately you're hypothetical a'must sends a signal to europe a to a terry with sends a signal to your adrenal gland says release stress hormones adrenaline cortisol and so your heart starts to pound your pupils dilate your airways open up and you are ready to either fight that bear or run from the bear and that is wonderful if you're in a forest and there's a bear but the problem is what happens when the bear comes home every night and this system is activated over and over and over again and it goes from being adaptive or lifesaving to maladaptive or healthdamaging.

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