Date: 31 Jan 2013

Differential Effects of Stress and Glucocorticoids on Adult Neurogenesis

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Abstract

Stress is known to inhibit neuronal growth in the hippocampus. In addition to reducing the size and complexity of the dendritic tree, stress and elevated glucocorticoid levels are known to inhibit adult neurogenesis. Despite the negative effects of stress hormones on progenitor cell proliferation in the hippocampus, some experiences which produce robust increases in glucocorticoid levels actually promote neuronal growth. These experiences, including running, mating, enriched environment living, and intracranial self-stimulation, all share in common a strong hedonic component. Taken together, the findings suggest that rewarding experiences buffer progenitor cells in the dentate gyrus from the negative effects of elevated stress hormones. This chapter considers the evidence that stress and glucocorticoids inhibit neuronal growth along with the paradoxical findings of enhanced neuronal growth under rewarding conditions with a view toward understanding the underlying biological mechanisms.