In my previous post, Stress: Receptors and Responses, I focused more on defining stress at various levels. What that post lacks, however, is a focus on threat appraisal, or the detection and classification of stimuli, and the adaptation to future stress based on a prior stress history. I will then describe how plasticity, specifically in the hippocampus, adds a layer of flexibility that aids in stress adaptation response.
With life, stress is an inevitable by-product and challenges our homeostatic equilibrium. Stress serves two broad purposes: it signals potential physical or psychological damage and also provides a learning opportunity for adaptation. How and what we define as a stressor is very subjective. Psychological processes, such as the perceived distance and magnitude of a threat 1, often play an integral role in the way we cope with these situations and interact with the environment.
(more on threat appraisal and adaptation after the jump)