Here's how stress damages movement centers in brain
Stress seems to have a negative effect on the learning of movements, according to the conclusion of a recent study at the University of Bonn.
Bonn [Germany]: Stress seems to have a negative effect on the learning of movements, according to the conclusion of a recent study at the University of Bonn.
According to the study that appeared in the journal 'Translational Psychiatry', the neurons of rodents lose some of their contact with other neurons after stress.
The animals also developed motor deficits. The results may be useful for earlier diagnosis and improved therapy of stress-related diseases such as depression. They also document that stress leaves traces in the brain-- possibly permanent ones.
Chronically stressed people often show abnormalities in their motor skills, such as poorer fine motor control. However, how these symptoms occur has hardly been studied so far.
"We investigated this question in our study," explained Prof. Dr Valentin Stein from the Institute of Physiology II at the University of Bonn.
"With our method, it is possible to observe one and the same neuron at different points in time," said Dr Anne-Kathrin Gellner, a physician at the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at Bonn University Hospital. "We can therefore see whether and how it changes as a result of stress."
"Nevertheless, it may well be that psychological stress also leaves permanent traces on them if it is too long or too frequent," worried Stein, who is also a member of the Transdisciplinary Research Area (TRA) 'Life and Health'.
The researchers also have clues as to what triggers the loss of synapses: Certain immune cells, the microglia, were activated in the rodents' brains. They belong to the so-called phagocytes and can, for example, digest pathogens or defective cells. It is possible that they are "switched on" by stress and then attack the contact sites.
The research group also examined the fluid that washes around the brain and spinal cord. They found certain proteins that can normally be detected there in neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's.
"We, therefore, believe that stress-related psychiatric diseases such as depression are also associated with the degradation of neurons. Accordingly, long-term stress-- to which children are increasingly exposed-- can potentially cause serious damage to the brain," said Dr Gellner. (ANI)