Higher levels of stress are found in the hypothalamus; lower stress are found in the dorsal lateral frontal cortex.
Test subjects were given fMRI scans while looking at images of distress including a snarling dog, mutilated faces, or filthy toilets.
“Despite the distinct roles of these networks, our findings suggest that individuals engaged both positive and negative networks adaptively to attenuate feelings of stress,” the Yale scientists explain in their study. “That is, participants had higher connectivity with negative networks (whose strength predicted feeling less stressed), but, at the same time, had lower connectivity with positive networks.”
The world currently is suffering from widespread psychological distress from the immediate health aspects of the global coronavirus pandemic, the consequences of physical isolation, fear of infection, dying and losing family members, physical distancing from loved ones and peers, and economic turmoil.
Those most at risk and in need of help are frontline health care workers, older people, adolescents, young people, those with preexisting mental health conditions, and those caught up in conflict and crisis.
A 17-page United Nations briefing pointed to a historic under-investment in mental health needs and called for the widespread availability of emergency mental health and psychological support during the pandemic.
“These findings may help us tailor a therapeutic intervention to multiple targets, such as increasing the strength of the connections from the hippocampus to the frontal cortex or decreasing the signaling to the physiological stress centers,” Rajita Sinha, the Foundations Fund professor of psychiatry and a professor in Yale’s Child Study Center and neuroscience department, told Yale News.