THIS IS YOUR BRAIN. This is your brain on stress.


What does floating do to your brain?  In addition to increasing production of endorphins, serotonin and dopamine while decreasing corticosteroids, a stress-reducing activity like floating might actually give you a bigger brain.  Literally.  Recent neuroscience studies suggest that a perpetual state of stress has a serious impact on your reasoning and decision making, formation and recall of long term memory, your emotions, and on self-control.

Below is an excerpt from that explains some of that neuroscience.  Consider that floating – one of the most relaxing and stress-reducing things you can do for your self – may be a perfect solution to all of the problems of stress on your brain that it describes.

THIS IS YOUR BRAIN. This is your brain on stress.

by DAVID ROPEIK, Reposted from

Want something else to worry about? Worry about worrying too much. The evidence is building that chronically elevated stress shrinks your brain!

study in press at the journal Biological Psychiatry asked 103 people about how often they had experienced stressful events, both recently and over the course of their lifetimes, as well as about their chronic ongoing stress, and then took functional magnetic resonance images of their brain. The more stress, the smaller the brain…in several particular cortical areas.

  •  “Cumulative adversity (a combination of recent stressful events and the lifetime total of stressful events) was associated with smaller volume in medial prefrontal cortex  (PFC), insular cortex , and subgenual anterior cingulate regions.”
  • “Recent stressful life events were associated with smaller volume in two clusters: the medial PFC and the right insula.”
  • “Life trauma (total stressful events over a lifetime) was associated with smaller volume in the medial PFC, anterior cingulate, and subgenual regions.”
  • “The interaction of greater subjective chronic stress and greater cumulative stressful life events was associated with smaller volume in the orbitofrontal cortex , insula, and anterior and subgenual cingulate regions.

And what do all those cortical areas have in common? They are all associated with reasoning and decision making, with emotion, and with self-control. The researchers were careful to say that “…lower volumes do not necessarily equate to poorer functioning,” adding “…it may be that regions of lower volume represent greater efficiency in functioning.” In other words, smaller brains may not mean less competent brains.

Except that other research suggests precisely that…that stress does have functional impacts on how well our brains work. It impairs formation and recall of long term memory, and stress is also strongly associated with clinical depression and with a decreased ability to cope with stressful experiences! So not only does the research on stress-associated brain shrinkage suggest that it causes functional mental impairments…one of the problems it appears to cause is the very ability to deal with further stress…which is a really scary positive feedback loop.

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