Stress in Mind
Stress in Mind
A Stress Response Hypothesis of Cognitive Evolution
The chapter argues that, just as the evolution and development of bone and muscle scaffolded one another, the vital response to existential challenge supported the evolution and development of cognition as a biological function. Likewise, the evolving cognitive repertoire supported the further evolution and development of the stress response. Supporting a stress response hypothesis of cognitive evolution is a robust body of emerging evidence concerning the unexpectedly intimate functional linkage of the immune system, the body’s frontline defense against danger, invasion, and damage, and the mammalian repertoire for sensing, evaluating, and acting on stimuli. Hundreds of studies over the past four decades have shown that psychological challenge can modify various features of the immune response. What is now also abundantly clear (if still poorly understood) is the critical role the immune system plays in normal cognitive function.
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