Behavioral Pharmacology of Stress: Focus on CNS Corticotropin-Releasing Factor
Stress is a hypothetical construct which has been extensively studied for the past three decades at different levels of analysis. It is a ubiquitous concept in physiology, psychology and medicine that often eludes precise definition. Hans Selye conceptualized stress as “a nonspecific response to any demand upon the body (usually, but not always, noxious), or anything which causes an alteration of homeostatic processes (1)”. A more modern version of this definition, taken from Burchfield (2) has emphasized the concept of psychological homeostasis or the maintenance of a normal mood state at rest. All emotions then are changes from this state. Indeed, as Dr. John Mason showed so elegantly, without emotional changes accompanying a stressor, the stress response is minimal (3). Thus commonly accepted physiological “stressors” (heat, excercise, hunger) do not elicit a “stress response” when they are presented in a way that eliminates their psychological (emotional) effects (fear, conflict, uncertainty, frustration).
KeywordsCorticotropin Release Factor Acoustic Startle Shock Intensity Conflict Test Corticotropin Release Factor
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