“What we can begin to think about is whether other people’s experiences or stresses may be changing us in a way that we don’t fully understand,” says Bains, professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. “The study also demonstrates that traits we think of as uniquely human are evolutionary conserved biological traits.”
The study shows that the effects of stress on the brain are reversed only in female mice following a social interaction. The team noticed that, in females, the residual effects of stress on neurons were cut almost in half following time spent with unstressed partners. The same was not true for males.
“If some of the effects of stress are erased through social interactions, but this benefit is limited to females, this may provide insights into how we design personalized approaches for the treatment of stress disorders in people,” says Bains.
The findings will be published in the March 2018 edition of Nature Neuroscience.