Trauma is any negative life event in which the brain perceives a real sense of danger, horror, and helplessness. PTSD occurs when people are directly exposed to, repeatedly exposed to, or witness horrific events, such as death, abuse, domestic violence, or war. During these events, the body’s stress response kicks into overdrive. Studies show that women are more likely to experience sexual abuse as children, whereas men are more likely to experience physical assault or witness death.
A person’s PTSD symptoms may prove indiscernible to others. When people are reliving their trauma, they sometimes stare off into space as if they are watching a movie.
Oxygen forms about 21% of the air around us. In your body, oxygen forms a vital role in the production of energy in most cells. But if gases can only efficiently diffuse across tiny distances, how does oxygen reach the cells deep inside your body? Enda Butler tracks the surprisingly complex journey of oxygen through your body.
In the United States, it’s estimated that 30 percent of adults and 66 percent of adolescents are regularly sleep-deprived. This isn’t just a minor inconvenience: staying awake can cause serious bodily harm. Claudia Aguirre shows what happens to your body and brain when you skip sleep. Read More
Our hard-wired stress response is designed to gives us the quick burst of heightened alertness and energy needed to perform our best. But stress isn’t all good. When activated too long or too often, stress can damage virtually every part of our body. Sharon Horesh Bergquist gives us a look at what goes on inside our body when we are chronically stressed.
Some people take aspirin or ibuprofen to treat everyday aches and pains, but how exactly do the different classes of pain relievers work? Learn about the basic physiology of how humans experience pain, and the mechanics of the medicines we’ve invented to block or circumvent that discomfort.
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It’s 4 a.m, and the big test is in 8 hours. You’ve been studying for days, but you still don’t feel ready. Should you drink another cup of coffee and spend the next few hours cramming? Or should you go to sleep? Shai Marcu defends the latter option, showing how sleep restructures your brain in a way that’s crucial for how our memory works.
Dyslexia affects up to 1 in 5 people, but the experience of dyslexia isn’t always the same. This difficulty in processing language exists along a spectrum — one that doesn’t necessarily fit with labels like “normal” and “defective.” Kelli Sandman-Hurley urges us to think again about dyslexic brain function and to celebrate the neurodiversity of the human brain. Read More
When you eat something loaded with sugar, your taste buds, your gut and your brain all take notice. This activation of your reward system is not unlike how bodies process addictive substances such as alcohol or nicotine — an overload of sugar spikes dopamine levels and leaves you craving more. Nicole Avena explains why sweets and treats should be enjoyed in moderation.
This video provides a clear explanation of how sugar affects the brain, and even hints at the fact that it acts more like a drug than most other foods. The differing impacts of processed and natural sugars are not mentioned, so the extent to which refined sugar is, or should be, considered toxic, is not raised as a point for discussion. Read More