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Can a Brain Scan Early in a Period of Stress Predict Eventual Memory Loss?

(National Centre for Biological Sciences) Work pressures, money issues, exams, perhaps an illness in the family -- these are common strains in every person's life. But when such daily battles are fought over long periods of time, we become subject to chronic stress.
This chronic stress could be affecting a part of our brain known as the hippocampus -- the seat of factual and declarative memory. The hippocampus is a pair of curved structures at the base of our brains and encodes memories of facts and events -- names, phone numbers, dates and daily events that we need to run our lives.
New research now shows that even a brief period of stress can cause the hippocampus to start shrinking.This shrinking of the hippocampus -- a change in the brain's structure -- actually precedes the onset of a change in behaviour, namely, the loss of memory.
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