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The Impact of Early Life Stress on the Neurodevelopment of the Stress Response System


This weeks' reading revolved around stress on the human body. These blueprints to hormone level production, neuron response, and the neurological development was displayed in a case study by Aaron Kindsvatter and Anne Geroski. In this article entitled, “The Impact of Early Life Stress on the Neurodevelopment of the Stress Response System, they present a study with both an animal model and humans. This article is used to describe the functioning of the stress response system of the brain and to review literature pertaining to the impact of early life stress on the development of the stress response mechanisms.

The primary mechanisms of the stress response system include the sympathetic-adrenal-medullary axis (SAM), the limbic system and the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal axis (HPA). The SAM axis involves direct connection between the norepinephrine center of the brain stem and the adrenal glands and is associated with the activation of the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system. Most would also refer to the system in regards to the para-sympathetic nervous system in reference to a “flight or fight” response. Under this division of the autonomic nervous system, this response also helps to regulate homeostasis and allostasis. The HPA plays a key function in stress response by initiating a series of neurotransmitters and Nero hormonal cascades that, among other functions, serve to regulate the body’s response to stress.

These researchers used both rats and cats as control groups to help correlate stress among early development to adult hood. Among the cats, they inhibited some of the cats from using their right eye upon birth. In this they found that these now grown cats developed conditioned eye sight even after eye sight with both eyes were permitted. This carried on neuro-response was also relate able to maternal instincts among mothers of human under post and prenatal stress. Among this study, the same results among the cats and rats were valid. These lasting effects per-conditioned the brain to produce more stress relieving hormones. More ACTH and CRF resulted in the diagnosis of PSTD. This study was also compared to cortisol levels of adult survivors of child abuse. Within all of the new found diagnosis, the idea of threat experienced at an early age resulted in lifetime effects of such bodily productions to counteract future threats.

In all, the body’s response to previous witnessed ideas of threat will promote certain synaptic response with different levels of hormone production; hence, why some people experience strokes more rapidly. Stress can cause major body dysfunctions. It is even one of the leading cause of death in the U.S. Stress will condition the brain to adapt to certain experiences at certain times, without this modification through early stress level identification, the explanation of stressful adulthood might be still in question.

Geriski and Aaron Kindsvatter (2011). "The Impact of Early Life Stress on the Nuerodevelopment of the Stress Response System". American Counseling Association.