Scientists have discovered fresh clues as to why some people are more prone to stress than others.
In a study of mice, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center determined that weeks after experiencing a stressful event, animals that were more susceptible to stress exhibited enhanced neurogenesis - the birth of new nerve cells in the brain.
Specifically, the cells that these animals produced after a stressful event survived longer than new brain cells produced by mice that were more resilient.
In addition, when researchers prevented neurogenesis in both stress-susceptible and resilient mice, the animals previously susceptible to stress became more resilient.
"This work shows that there is a period of time during which it may be possible to alter memories relevant to a social situation by manipulating adult-generated nerve cells in the brain," said Dr. Amelia Eisch, associate professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study.
"This could eventually lead to a better understanding of why, in humans, there is an enormous variety of responses to stressful situations," Eisch added.
The study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.