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Managing Stress Chapter 3

Updated on December 19, 2014


1. Identify the role that the limbic system and the neocortical level of the brain plays in the physiology of stress.

The limbic system is the emotional control center; it is responsible for the biochemical chain of events that constitutes the stress response.

The neocortical level of the brain is the level of the brain where sensory information is processed or decoded as a threat or non-threat and where cognitive thought process takes place.


2. Discuss the effects of cortisol during the stress response.

Cortisol is a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands that helps the body prepare for fight or flight by promoting the release of glucose and lipids in the blood for energy metabolism.

3. Identify the role that the adrenal gland plays in the stress response.

The adrenal glands also known as the stress glands are located on top of each kidney, they house and release several stress hormones. They are responsible for regulating stress and glucose levels.


4. Identify the functions of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

The sympathetic nervous system is the branch of the central nervous system that triggers the flight or fight response when some element of threat is present.The Sympathetic Nervous System which initiates the stress response.

The parasympathetic nervous system is the branch of the central nervous system that specifically calms the body through the parasympathetic response. The Parasympathetic Nervous System which induces the relaxation response.

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Disscussion questions

1. Based on the discussion of multitasking in your textbook, do you feel multitasking is beneficial or dangerous? Please explain your answer.

2. Describe a time in which you engaged in multitasking. Did multitasking improve or impair your performance?


The autonomic nervous system runs the automatic functions of the body; for example, the heart rate, digestion, breathing, and the hormonal system. The autonomic nervous system is composed of two different systems that both play a key part in the stress response. The first part is called the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for initiating the stress response by triggering the fight or flight response. The sympathetic nervous system does this by releasing substances called epinephrine, also known as adrenaline and norepinephrine or noradrenaline. The second part is called the parasympathetic nervous system. This part of the autonomic nervous system is responsible for energy conservation and relaxation. The parasympathetic nervous system returns the body to homeostasis by releasing a neurological agent called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine decreases the amount of metabolic activity in the body.

The adrenal gland, also known as the stress gland, is made of two different parts - the adrenal cortex and the adrenal medulla. The adrenal gland’s role is to release the hormones that fuel the fight or flight response. The adrenal cortex is the exterior of the adrenal gland, “and it manufactures and releases hormones called corticosteroids” (Seaward 52). The corticosteroids that the adrenal cortex releases are called glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids. The adrenal medulla is the inside of the adrenal gland that secretes catecholamines. The catecholamines that the adrenal medulla secretes are called epinephrine and norepinephrine; these “act in a similar fashion as those secreted at the endings of the sympathetic nerves” (Seaward 53). Under the influence of stress the adrenal medulla releases 20 percent norepinephrine and 80 percent epinephrine. This is three hundred times the amount of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the blood when the body is resting.

“I want to lengthen, not shorten, my attention span, and most of the material splendors of the twenty-first century bully me in the opposite direction. The fault is mine, I'll admit. I'm too slow-witted, reluctant to evolve, constitutionally unable to get with the program. I can't afford the newest gadgets and I'm not a natural multitasker.

— Phillip Connors

Juggling is an illusion. ... In reality, the balls are being independently caught and thrown in rapid succession. ... It is actually task switching

— Gary Keller, The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

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When we think we're multitasking we're actually multiswitching. That is what the brain is very good at doing - quickly diverting its attention from one place to the next. We think we're being productive. We are, indeed, being busy. But in reality we're simply giving ourselves extra work.

— Michael Harris

A person who is interrupted while performing a task takes 50% more time to complete it and make 50% more errors

— David Brooks

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