The portion of the vertebrate nervous system that controls the “stress response” –the sympathetic NS - serves a critical function, aiding in survival and enabling great feats to be accomplished: the ability to suddenly outrun a fast and hungry predator, or fight off a threatening competitor even if out-sized or out-numbered. Generally, this response is activated in emergency situations that require an animal to “fight” or take “flight”. Humans often activate the stress response even when no external threat or challenge is present – we can sit in a chair and just thinking about something irritating or stressful can stimulate our sympathetic nervous systems to produce adrenaline, increase heart rate, and activate other related reactions. When we do that over extended periods there are impacts on many aspects of our physiology that can affect overall health. In this class we will learn about the “fight or flight” response, and how it affects the body when engaged short and long-term. We will read the informative and entertaining book, “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers”, as well as recent published studies on human stress. We will also have guest speakers, who will discuss some healthful techniques for managing stress in our daily lives.
Normative number of units awarded for the class is 2, with the option of an additional unit awarded for a research project in area of student’s interest.
Open to all majors; no pre-reqs.
Robert M. Sapolsky, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers Holt