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Biological Psychology
What is stress?
`Stress is the emotional and physical strain caused by our response to pressure from the outside
world.'
The term stress was intro. to Psychology from mechanical engineering, analysing metal as the
stress built it bent.
Became popular when Selye (1930's-1940's) found that rats given repeated daily injections
developed gastric ulcers.
He researched this further and found that it was the stress of the injection that caused this
problem.
His later research discovered that different stressors all produce the same response and patterns
of physiological responses ­ he called this the stress response.
What is a stressor?
A stimulus or situation imposing demands on an individual.…read more

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The Body's Response To Stressors
Animals
· Stress is an adaptive response.
· In the past, quick responses would have been a matter of life or death.
· Stress responses have evolved to provide animals with this response in danger
(fight or flight)
· An animal that does not respond in this way is less likely to survive and reproduce.
How do you feel when you are stressed?
· These feelings are all signs of stress responses and occur due to activity in the automatic
nervous system (ANS) eg. Angry, stressed, frustrated, ranged, hurt, incapable, devastation.
· Some stress experiences are very quick - a stressor appears and the body responds ­ this is
an ACUTE (short in duration but typically severe) stress experience.
· Other stressful experiences can last for a long time ­ these are CHRONIC (persists for a long
time and is constantly reoccurring) stressors.…read more

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The Body Responds Differently To Two
Types of Stress
· Starts with appraisal of the situation.
· Primary appraisal is where the person assesses
the situation to identify potential threats.
· Secondary appraisal is where the person assesses
their ability to cope with a threatening situation.
· If the situation is appraised as potentially
stressful, the hypothalamus is alerted. This
controls the HPA axis and SAM pathway which
both have central roles in the body's response to
stress.…read more

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Hypothalamus - Chronic Stress and the
HPA Axis
Hypothalamus
Stimulates P
Pituitary
Secretes ACTH
ACTH
Stimulates A.C...
Adrenal Cortex
To produce....
Cortisol (Corticosteroid)
CORTISOL helps the body to cope with stress by maintaining
sugar supplies for continued
energy.…read more

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Acute Stress and the SAM system
Hypothalamus
Stimulates...
ANS
Activates
Adrenal Medulla ...
Produces/Releases...
Adrenaline
Gets body ready for `fight or flight' response.
Acts on heart muscle to increase heart rate and also blood vessels to
constrict them and raise blood pressure.
This results in oxygen being rapidly pumped to the muscles allowing for
increased physical activity.…read more

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