In the August 15th issue of the Journal of Biological Psychiatry, Gregory Miller, PhD, and his colleagues released the results of a preliminary study in which they found that stress impacts the body at the genetic level. While studies around stress have previously focused on levels of cortisol— frequently referred to in Pop-psychology parlance as the "stress hormone"— and the impact of stress on those levels' patterns, Miller and his colleagues found in their subjects that it is the body's ability to receive the signal from this hormone, even as it exists in some stressed subjects at normal levels, that is altered under stressful conditions. Miller's team noted the differences in patterns of gene expression in the blood's monocytes-- white blood cells impacting physical immune response-- between subjects serving as caretakers for family members battling cancer and a comparable group of subjects not coping with an enduring stressor of this kind. The genetic patterns in the caregivers' monocytes impaired their bodies' responses to cortisol's anti-inflammatory properties. The caregivers' "chronic pro-inflammatory state… could contribute to the risk for a number of medical illnesses, such as depression, heart disease, and diabetes."
Stress wrecks your head -- and, sometimes, the truth.
By Gunjan SinhaPosted 01.23.2002 at 5:31 pm 0 Comments
Jessica Payne had seen and read much about false memories. In particular, she had read about witnesses to violent crimes who misidentified the perpetrators. But as a graduate student of neuroscience at the University of Arizona, she was shocked to discover that there was almost no research on the effect of stress in creating such memories. Payne decided to study the phenomenon herself, and her research strongly suggests that stress can alter memories by messing with the way they are consolidated.