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The HPA axis
· Known as the body's stress system
· Controls the levels of cortisol and other stress
related hormones
· This system is more difficult to activate than the
sympathomedullary system: it is the response to
chronic (ongoing) stress…read more

Slide 3

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Perception of stressor
by higher brain centres
Hypothalamus
CRF
Pituitary Gland
ACTH Negative
Adrenal Cortex feedback
CORT
Cortisol causes stress
effects in the body…read more

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The Hypothalamus
· When the brain perceives a stressor, a message is sent to
the hypothalamus
· The hypothalamus controls most of the hormonal
systems- including those concerned with the stress
response
· Activation of the paraventricular nucleus
(PVN) within the hypothalamus leads
to the release of a hormone called
corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF)
into the bloodstream…read more

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The Pituitary Gland
· When the CRF arrives at the pituitary gland, the
pituitary gland produces and releases
adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH)
· The ACTH travels through the bloodstream to
the adrenal glands, located above the kidneys…read more

Slide 6

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The Adrenal Cortex
· The adrenal cortex releases the stress hormone
cortisol which has effects such as:
Giving a quick burst of energy
Reducing sensitivity to pain
Impairing cognitive performance
Increasing blood pressure
Decreasing immune response
· Prolonged release of ACTH causes the adrenal cortex
to grow larger so that it can cope with the increased
production of cortisol…read more

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