For Stress Resiliance, thank DeltaFosB

Sci’s not gonna lie, the past several days have been, to say the least, incredibly stressful.  I have no idea when blogging went from something that was fun and interesting to something that took up my entire life, but WHOA DUDES.  The end result is stress, and Sci has been eating junk food, not sleeping, and getting decidedly snappish.  Mr. SiT requests your sympathies.

And Sci is having another stress response.  Because she likes this paper and wants to blog it.  But it’s REALLY complicated.  As a side note, one of the things about blogging and trying to explain things to people outside of your field is that you often need to pick the more simple papers.  This one is THICK and it’s chock full of STUFF.  But.  She’s going to try this anyway, and is going to stick with the first half.  Because the finding is cool, and it has implications.  So here we go.

So Sci has what is probably the normal reaction to stress.  But there’s not REALLY a normal reaction to stress.  people who are under stress (which would be a lot of us) show really widely differing responses.  Some people make it through times of extreme stress relatively unscathed, while others develop depression or PTSD, and right now, we’re still not sure what makes the difference.

Some people have thought that the brain’s reward circuits could play as role of how we adapt to stress, by influencing things like self-esteem  and optimism (Sci’s not so sure what she thinks of the psychological ideas that underlie this theory, but it’s what the paper is based on, so we’re going with it for now, and the science backing up the role of the reward system in things like depression is some very good stuff).  And so this paper investigates the way changes in certain parts of the mesolimbic dopamine system, a system connected with the rewarding and reinforcing properties of stuff, like drugs, is affected by stress, and what that means in terms of behavior.

ResearchBlogging.org Vialou et al (et al is right, there’s like 20 authors on this thing!) “DeltaFosB in brain reward circuits mediates resilience to stress and antidepressant responses” Nature Neuroscience, 2010.

Continue reading