KEY TERMS - Stress

Key terms you will need for the stress module, also referred to as the biological psychology module

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  • Created on: 18-05-09 11:50
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Stress Key Terms
Stress (1) An external stimulus which places a strain on the individual. (2) An internal
state of psychological and physiological change in response to a stressor. (3) A
transaction between the individual and their environment. This transaction
results in a stress response if the individual believes they cannot cope with the
demands they see placed upon them.
Stressor Something which causes stress
Stress response The psychological and/or physiological response to a stressor
Arousal A heightened state of mental and physical alertness. A readiness to respond
Fight or flight response A response to a situation seen as a threat or an emergency. It involves
physiological changes which prepare the boy for rapid activity.
Nervous system The biological control system that organises behaviour
Neurotransmitter A chemical used to communicate between neurons
Central nervous system Consists of the brain and the spinal cord. The part of the nervous system where
(CNS) information processing takes place.
Peripheral nervous Consists of two parts - the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous
system (PNS) system.
Somatic nervous Connects the CNS with the organs and muscles of the body
Autonomic nervous Keeps the body in a stable state by controlling basic functions such as hear rate.
system (ANS) The ANS is divided into two branches.
Sympathetic branch The part of the ANS which is concerned with the release and use of energy
when activity is required
Parasympathetic The part of the ANS which is concerned with the storage of energy
Hypothalamus A small structure at the base of the brain which is involved in controlling the
autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system
Hormones Chemicals released by glands which circulate in the bloodstream and act as
messengers affecting particular cells and organs
Pituitary gland The main endocrine gland. Sometimes known as the 'master gland' because it
regulates the other glands in the endocrine system.
Adrenal glands The main 'stress glands' so called because they play a major role in the stress
Sympathetic-adrenal-m The route though which the brain directs the sympathetic branch of the
edullary-system (SAM) autonomic nervous system to activate the stress response.

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Hypothalamic-pituitary The route through which the brain directs the endocrine system to activate the
-adrenal axis (HPA) stress response.
Short-term stress A sudden burst of energy in response to a stressor. It dies down rapidly once
the stressor has passed.
Long-term stress Longer-lasting stress in response to a prolonged stressor or a number of
General Adaptation A model which identifies the main physiological change in the stress response.
System These are the alarm stage, the resistance stage and the exhaustion stage.…read more


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