Stress is associated with the development of psychological disorders and changes in cognition and emotion. Prefrontal cortex and related structures such as the amygdala are involved in many of the tasks that are influenced by chronic stress, are targets for hormones such as the glucocorticoids involved in the stress response, and have been implicated in a variety of psychological disorders.
Stress produces profound changes in the morphology of neurons in prefrontal cortex and related structures. Our research investigates how stress-induced changes in neuronal structure influence the function of these neurons, and how structural, neurochemical, and functional changes are related to cognitive and emotion-regulation functions. We also aim to understand the mechanisms of these stress-induced structural and functional changes.