Environmental Influences

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In relation to the findings of environmental influences and its effect on human behavior, this essay will be discussing two effects of the environment on physiological processes, provided with a variety of hypotheses and supported by research studies that have investigated these two effects. It has been argued that aspects in a surrounding environment can affect the physiological processes of the human brain such as neurotransmitters and hormones, in which the relationship between the environment and physiology is stated to be bidirectional—in this case, environmental quality can alter the condition of the cerebral cortex, which influences one’s behavior and experiences.

One effect of an environment on physiological processes is neuroplasticity.
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Stressors are defined to be experiences or conditions that cause stress and are categorized into acute (an assault or incident) and chronic (worry or anticipation of violence) stress. Therefore, it can be assumed that extreme stress caused by an outside event has the potential to heavily affect structures and functions in the brain. A study that investigates the effects of environmental stressors on the brain was studied by Sekiguchi et. al (2014). The aim of the study was to explore the long-term effects of post-earthquake distress on brain microstructural changes by using MRI scans. In a previous study, MRI scans were taken from a group of thirty healthy participants (male and female, aged 16-25) before the earthquake that had occurred in Japan. Three to four months post-earthquake, MRIs were taken again from the same group and were examined to see short-term effects related to post-earthquake distress. The amount of white matter (responsible for electrical signals in the brain, surrounded by myelin) and grey matter (receiver of these signals) of the brain drastically changed. The excess myelin altered the balance of white and grey matter, therefore disrupting timing of communication within the brain. When anxiety levels were measured to assess emotional distress following the disaster, long-term effects that had since escalated into PTSD included damage in the hippocampus, which not only plays an important role in the memory area of the brain but also is also involved with fear responses. In this case, the subjects that did suffer from PTSD either had difficulty remembering the event, or the memories were always vivid and present. In relation to fear response, because of the

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