THE NEUROPHYSIOLOGY OF THE STRESS RESPONSE AND ITS RELEVANCE TO RESILIENCE IN TRAUMA

Open Access
Author:
Antinori, Lilith Zaila
Graduate Program:
Neuroscience
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
July 05, 2017
Committee Members:
  • Nanyin Zhang, Thesis Advisor
  • Kevin Douglas Alloway, Committee Member
  • Sonia Angele Cavigelli, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • stress
  • trauma
  • posttraumatic stress disorder
  • neuroscience
  • fear conditioning
  • fear extinction methods
Abstract:
This thesis begins as a literature review of the neurophysiological substrates of stress response, with a particular focus on the autonomic and endocrine components of stress response and the brain regions thought to subserve their function. After defining the physiology and neural networks implicated in stress response and the hierarchy along which stress responses are believed to occur, we will depart from the literature review format of this thesis to examine the author’s own work developing a novel measure for quantifying fear learning in fear extinction (FE) training and testing paradigms. The development of this measure may help avoid the procedure of fasting for the FE experiment paradigm currently used in multiple labs, which by itself can introduce neurophysiological confounds into stress studies. Finally, the application of this measure to existing data has led to interesting observations into possible physiological substrates of vulnerability to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These observations will be discussed in the context of the initial literature review. We will argue that stress is experienced in the body as a variety of orchestrated and dynamic physiological states that may become pathogenic when homeorhesis between the endocrine and autonomic systems that subserve them becomes compromised.