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            Best Paper Award :
Dr. Muhammad Baqir MR Fakhrildin
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Abstract

BRAIN EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS: UNDERSTANDING NEUROLOGICAL AND BIOCHEMICAL RESPONSES TO PROLONGED STRESS AND ANXIETY

*Prof. Dr. Bowirrat Abdalla M.D., Ph.D., Mustafa Ghanim M.D., Ph.D and Bowirrat Aia B.Sc.

ABSTRACT

Comprehending the mechanisms underpinning neurological and biochemical neuropsychiatric disorders opening new avenues to treatment. Neurochemistry is an essential and practical science within the core of the multi-disciplinary field of neuroscience, who become the foundation for understanding all the mechanisms of brain functions, the biological processes and it explains how neurochemicals influence the operation of neurons. Neuroscience encompasses both a life science and a chemical science. While, neurochemistry is relevant to the scientific basis of neurology and synergy of both discipline, broaden our understanding of the complex interactions of multiple neuronal systems that depend on the fundamental principle that neurons communicate chemically by the activity-dependent secretion of neurotransmitters, that underlie the emergence and rich diversity of cognitive function, regulation and expression of all the biological basis for behavior. Nevertheless, we are looking to understand the impact of stress and anxiety upon executive functions through the lens of the interaction between neurology and biochemistry. What is happening neurologically, biochemically and how we can exert influence or control over how we react psychologically? The mental abilities that converge into the executive functions are vital for formulating tasks, designing strategies, forward planning and implementing the objectives successfully to distinguish the achievements from failures. Rational executive functions require appropriate mental health free from outside pressures, which may compromise rational decisions and may precipitate decision biases especially in fateful issues, resulting in negative outcomes, and “Brain Blindness.” Neuropsychological evidence suggests that executive functions are intimately dependent on intact function of the frontal cortices and surrounding brain processes, acting as a system of independent components, interrelated, but having distinct composition components. Executive dysfunction refers to structural or functional frontal pathology of brain networks comprising the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and its correlations with other brain regions, alteration in the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis and disequilibrium of neurotransmitters in the brain. Hence, decision-making and risk-taking is predicated on normal brain executive function. However, when we are under chronic stress, automatized, leisurely, and quick reactions, minimal cognitive efforts are required to perform unpredictable or uncertain decisions that may predominate over prudence forethought in decision-making processes. In this case the command is under our emotional intuitions in the subcortical emotion regions, triggered by our gain, reward, motivation and prior accumulated information, in contrast to our analytic system located in cortical regions – cognitive abilities –which is suspended. This down-top change in tasks leads to dysfunction of the cortical executive function and leads to decision-making biases. Herein, we are looking to illuminate the neurocircuitry underlying these inconveniences in a hope to understand the mechanisms underpinning these perturbations that provoke changes in our behavioral and exacerbate decision making biases. Neural mechanisms for chronic stress and anxiety and their impact on our executive function, cognitive performance, and our decision-making necessitate intensive researches. Understanding the brain circuits, the neurotransmitters activities under stress and anxiety may increase our knowledge and clarify the paths that we should select, and they may draw lessons for possible medical interventions.

Keywords: Executive functions, cognitive abilities, prefrontal cortex, stress, anxiety, decision making.


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