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Stress and Plasticity in the Limbic System


The adult nervous system is not static, but instead can change, can be reshaped by experience. Such plasticity has been demonstrated from the most reductive to the most integrated levels, and understanding the bases of this plasticity is a major challenge. It is apparent that stress can alter plasticity in the nervous system, particularly in the limbic system. This paper reviews that subject, concentrating on: a) the ability of severe and/or prolonged stress to impair hippocampal-dependent explicit learning and the plasticity that underlies it; b) the ability of mild and transient stress to facilitate such plasticity; c) the ability of a range of stressors to enhance implicit fear conditioning, and to enhance the amygdaloid plasticity that underlies it.

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Sapolsky, R.M. Stress and Plasticity in the Limbic System. Neurochem Res 28, 1735–1742 (2003).

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  • Stress
  • hippocampus
  • glucocorticoids
  • amygdala
  • LTP
  • LTD