Stress during youth linked to long term memory impairments

According to the University of Buffalo, the molecular impact of stress on the brain is greater during adolescents than adulthood.

The research was based on comparing levels of stress and its impact on memory in male rats of different ages. It was reported that, there was a significant reduction in glutamate receptor expression and function in the Pre-frontal cortex, an area known to be involved with memory, attention and decision making. This cognitive deficit was not found in adult rats subjected to the same levels of stress.

Neuroscientists have known for some time that it is during adolescents, the human brain is highly sensitive to the effects of stress, particularly areas of the brain such as the prefrontal cortex (PFC) which is known not to reach maturity until approximately 25 years of age.

This research means therefore, that being subjected to sever external pressures and stress during adolescents could be permanently stunting the maturity and subsequent functioning of particular brain areas.

Stress is always going to be a part of day-to-day life. There are a number of evidence-based techniques that can be adopted to help an individual cope with stress and potentially protect their brain and memory.

Mindfulness meditation, yoga and art therapy are three such techniques. Each one encourages a person to accept their circumstances with non-judgemental awareness rather than allow their bodies to mindlessly react to external pressures. This means their bodies may not undergo extreme stress responses that take time and energy to return to states of rest, subsequently mental and physical health could be preserved.

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