Gillian T. – BASIS Scottsdale

BASIS Scottsdale Senior Gillian T.

The PTSDetails: Brain Plasticity and Chronic Stress

Project/blog link: The PTSDetails: Brain Plasticity and Chronic Stress
BASIS Advisor: Ms. Lindsay Wilson
Internship location: ASU, Department of Psychology
Onsite Mentor: Dr. Cheryl D. Conrad, Assistant Vice President of Research Development

Project Abstract

The stress response is vital to an organism’s survival; however, a dysregulated stress response can be deadly. In 2016, The American Institute of Stress reported that 73% of people regularly experience psychological symptoms due to stress, and 77% regularly experience physical symptoms due to stress. Since stress is such a widely experienced issue, be it anywhere from a minor worry to a chronic disorder, understanding stress balance is necessary for optimal health. For my Senior Project, I will partner with Dr. Cheryl Conrad, a professor in the pyschology department at ASU. I will be helping in the Behavioral Neuroscience Research in Stress lab, which aims to look at inhibitory cellular circuitry on chronic stress and resilience. In the lab, mice are chronically stressed using mesh wire restraints, and their brains are examined under a microscope. We then note the impact chronic stress has on their neurons. I also plan to research the topic independently in order to answer the question ‘how does stress influence brain plasticity and resilience?’ I anticipate that stress alters both the size and shape of the rodent’s neurons and the expression of proteins in their brains. Understanding this effect helps us understand how to reverse it, which provides possibility for novel therapeutic treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is caused by chronic stress permanently altering brain structures.

The PTSDetails: Brain Plasticity and Chronic Stress