Research shows emotional stress can change brain function

Jan 12, 2011

Research conducted by Iaroslav Savtchouk, a graduate student, and S. June Liu, PhD, Associate Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, has shown that a single exposure to acute stress affected information processing in the cerebellum – the area of the brain responsible for motor control and movement coordination and also involved in learning and memory formation. The work is published in the January 12, 2011 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

The researchers found that a five-minute exposure to the odor of a predator produced the insertion of receptors containing GluR2 at the connections (synapses) between nerve cells in the brain. GluR2 is a subunit of a receptor in the central nervous system that regulates the transfer of electrical impulses between nerve cells, or neurons. The presence of GluR2 changed electrical currents in the cerebellum in a way that increased activity and altered the output of the cerebellar circuit in the brains of mice.

Our ability to learn from experience and to adapt to our environment depends upon synaptic plasticity – the ability of a neuron or synapse to change its internal parameters in response to its history. A change in the GluR2 receptor subunit has been observed both during normal learning and memory as well as during many pathological processes, including drug addiction, stress, epilepsy, and ischemic stroke. However, the effect of this change on neuronal function is not fully understood.

"Our results lead to the testable prediction that emotional stress could affect motor coordination and other cerebellum-dependent cognitive functions," notes Dr. Liu. "These results are also applicable to communication in other brain regions and circuits. A long term goal is to alleviate the burden of neurological disorders such as motor dysfunctions, drug addiction, PTSD, and stroke."

Next steps include further research to improve our understanding of the role GluR2 insertion plays in normal learning and functioning of the brain, why some neurons contain GluR2-lacking receptors, but not others, and how that affects their role in function.

Explore further: Electrical nerve stimulation can reverse spinal cord injury nerve damage in patients

Related Stories

The secrets behind stress-induced illness

Dec 22, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Both humans and animals have different reactions to stress. Ongoing exposure to stress causes some individuals to show symptoms of disease, while others are resilient and do not become ill. ...

New adult brain cells may be central to lifelong learning

May 23, 2007

The steady formation of new brain cells in adults may represent more than merely a patching up of aging brains, a new study has shown. The new adult brain cells may serve to give the adult brain the same kind of learning ...

Study raises caution on new painkillers

Mar 12, 2008

A new class of painkillers that block a receptor called TRPV1 may interfere with brain functions such as learning and memory, a new study suggests. The experiments with rat brain found that the TRPV1 receptor regulates a ...

Recommended for you

Long-term memories are maintained by prion-like proteins

17 hours ago

Research from Eric Kandel's lab at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) has uncovered further evidence of a system in the brain that persistently maintains memories for long periods of time. And paradoxically, ...

Water to understand the brain

19 hours ago

To observe the brain in action, scientists and physicians use imaging techniques, among which functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is the best known. These techniques are not based on direct observations ...

Scientists reveal more about how memories are formed

23 hours ago

Researchers at the University of Leicester working alongside colleagues in the US, have found that nerve cells in a brain region called the medial temporal lobe play a key role in the rapid formation of new memories about ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

JenineS
not rated yet Jan 12, 2011
Recent studies have shown the benefit of Magnesium L-Threonate for memory.
There is a research lab in California called Sabre Sciences that has Megnesium L-Threonate and is combining it with inositol which is involved in the transmission of messages between neuronal cells and the transport of fats within cells

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.