Over the last three decades, science has been advancing the understanding of stress—how it impacts the human body and how social standing can make a person more or less susceptible. Through studies of baboons on the plains of Africa and research in the neuroscience labs of Stanford University, scientists are discovering just how lethal stress can be. Understanding how stress works can help people figure out ways to combat it and how to live a life free of the tyranny of this contemporary plague.
During periods of stress, blood rushes to the amygdala and is shunted away from the prefrontal cortex. The ability to create and problem solve is temporarily reduced. Additional sleep, better nutrition, more physical activity, and increased recreation shut off the stress response.
You spend weeks studying for an important test. On the big day, you wait nervously as your teacher hands it out. You're working your way through, when you're asked to define "ataraxia." You know you've seen the word before, but your mind goes blank. What just happened? Elizabeth Cox details the complex relationship between stress and memory.
Using a mix of experiential reportage, personal storytelling, and fresh scientific discovery, Steven Johnson describes how the brain works -- its chemicals, structures, and subroutines -- and how these systems connect to the day-to-day realities of individual lives.