Stress, Emotions and Neuropsychiatry
The biological response to stress is concerned with the maintenance of homeostasis in the presence of real or perceived challenges. This process requires numerous adaptive responses involving changes in the central nervous, neuroendocrine and immune systems. When a situation is perceived as stressful, the brain activates many neuronal circuits linking centers involved in sensory, motor, autonomic, neuroendocrine, cognitive, and emotional functions in order to adapt to the demand. However, the details of the genes and pathways by which the brain translates stressful stimuli into the final, integrated biological response are presently incompletely understood. Nevertheless, it is clear that dysregulation of these physiological responses to stress can have severe psychological and physiological consequences, and there is much evidence to suggest that inappropriate regulation, disproportionate intensity, or chronic and/or irreversible activation of the stress response is linked to the etiology and pathophysiology of anxiety disorders, depression and other psychopathologies.
The research groups at the Department of Brain Sciences are studying the neurobiology of stress and emotions by focusing on the specific genes and brain circuits, which are associated with, or altered by, behavioral or physiological challenges. Recent and emerging findings from our research groups listed below, provided important insights into the brain mechanisms by which homeostatic challenges affects psychological and physiological disorders.