Sympathomedullary Pathway

  • Bodys response to short term stress
  • Hypothalamus acitivates adrenal medulla (part of the ANS)
  • Adrenal medulla secretes hormone adrenaline and neurotransmitter noradrenaline
  • Adrenaline activates fight/flight response
  • Adrenaline leads to arousal of sympathetic nervous system and decreased arousal of parasympathetic nervous system
  • Adrenaline: increased heart rate, blood pressure
  • Parasympathetic branch brings body back to normal state
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Pituitary Adrenal System

  • Bodys response to long term stress
  • Hypothalamus releases corticotrophin factor (CRF)
  • CRF is sent to the pituitary gland which releases adrenocorticotrophic hormone
  • ACH is sent to adrenal cortex which releases cortisol
  • Maintains a steady supply of glucose (energy) and surpresses immune system
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Immune System

  • Specific immunity: B lymphocytes produce antibodies to destroy antigen on surface of pathogen
  • Non-specific: cells engulf pathogen through phagocytosis to combat infection
  • Immune surpression: corticosteroids released as part of the pituitary adrenal system causes immunosurpression (fewer white blood cells and therefore fewer antibodies)
  • Long term stress can lead the body to become vulnerable to infection and disease
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Short Term Stress Study: KIECOLT AND GLASER

  • Took blood samples from 75 students one month before and during exam period
  • Blood samples from before exam period had more T-cells than sample after exam period, showing that stress had an impact on the immune system (less effective)
  • AO2: natural study so high ecological validity yet hard to control extraneous variables EG diet, sleep patterns, age
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Long Term Stress Study: KIECOLT GLASER

  • Blister wounds on married couples healed slower after a conflicting converstion, showing that the immune system had become less effective after a stressful situation
  • Poorer immune ststem functionning in women who were separated from their partner than in married couples
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Evaluation of Stress and Immune System

  • Stress can enhance immune system functionning- EVANS ET AL found antibody activity in students increased with short term acute stress (giving a presentation) however during exams (long term) immune system functionning decreased
  • Mediating factors also affect stress: lifestyle, social support, personality (A/B)
  • Health is slow to change and so it is hard to measure long term stress and health changes, reducing validity
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Work Place Stress

  • Karsek's Job Strain Model
  • Stress is highest with low job control and high psychological demands
  • MARMOT ET AL- studied 10,000 civil servants aged 35-65 over 3 year period (longitudinal)
  • Job control was measured through self report (subjective and demand characteristics)
  • Correlational analysis showed that workers with job control were 4X more likely to die of a heart attack and have stress related illness
  • JOHANSSON- Swedish Saw Mill
  • Studied 14 low control employees and compared them with 10 low stress high control employees
  • Measured adrenaline and noradrenaline hormones through urine samples throughout the day (objective and so high validity)
  • RLA- high demand and low control work results in highest levels of stress (and subsequently more vulnerablle to illness, and so suggested job rotation to reduce stress in the workplace
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