Lunch @UCBerkeley with Daniela Kaufer – Why a little stress is good for the brain
Lunch @UCBerkeley with Daniela Kaufer – Why a little stress is good for the brainDOWNLOADABLE GUIDE TO SUNDAY EVENTS
Humans have dealt with stress since the first Africans had to outrun lions. But modern men and women are increasingly suffering from chronic stress, which has been linked to everything from heart disease and stroke to mental illness. Daniela Kaufer is interested in how acute stress pushes us to a level of optimal alertness, behavioral and cognitive performance, while chronic stress leads to disease.
Kaufer will discuss what is known about the good and bad effects of stress, and how her research in rats and mice is uncovering the cellular and molecular processes underlying these effects. Her work increasingly involves neuronal stem cells, a small population of cells in the brain that mature into neurons and support (glial) cells. She is currently studying good and bad rat moms to assess the impact of early life stress on later mental illness.
One area of her research is already bearing fruit. She and colleagues in Israel showed that extreme stress, such as that experienced in combat, can break down the physiological barriers that normally protect the brain, the so-called blood-brain barrier. They followed the pathological consequences of prolonged blood brain dysfunction, such as after stroke or traumatic brain injury, and documented the steps that lead to the development of epilepsy, which involves glial cells called astrocytes. They have now found a drug that blocks one of the key molecular triggers, and may protect the brain from damage that can lead to epilepsy.
Registration is required.