eISSN: 2084-9885
ISSN: 1896-6764
Neuropsychiatria i Neuropsychologia/Neuropsychiatry and Neuropsychology
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vol. 2

Review article
Neurobiology of stress

Jerzy Landowski

Neuropsychiatria i Neuropsychologia 2007; 2, 1: 26–36
Online publish date: 2007/07/25
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The term stress is widely used in many fields of science, and also in everyday language – unfortunately, very often in different, even contradictory meanings. Therefore, establishing a general common concept of stress seems to be very important. The definition of stress should assume that stress is a common part of everyday life and a reaction to the discrepancy between what is going on and what is expected. This reaction is adaptive, which means that resolution of a stressful situation and elaboration of a new strategy of action are the aims of this basic process. Basically, stress is of biological or psychobiological nature. The paper presents basic information on the subject of the fundamental stress mechanisms. The executive role of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and sympathetic-adrenomedullary (SAM) system are described. The importance of the glucocorticoid feedback control mechanism in regulation and cessation of the stress reaction is emphasized. Besides these two main systems, many others are involved in the stress reaction. The noradrenergic central system regulatory pathway via the hypothalamus to the peripheral sympathetic system and ascending projection to the limbic system and prefrontal cortex, as well as the dopaminergic system with projections to the prefrontal cortex, play an important role in coping mechanisms. The significance of the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus in stressor identification and monitoring of the stress course are mentioned at the end of the paper.

stress, neurobiology, endocrinology

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