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Neuroscience. 2012 Jun 1;211:28-38. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.02.042. Epub 2012 Feb 28.

Stress-induced impairments in prefrontal-mediated behaviors and the role of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor.

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1
Laboratory of Behavioral and Genomic Neuroscience, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892-9304, USA. graybealc@mail.nih.gov

Abstract

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) mediates higher-order cognitive and executive functions that subserve various complex, adaptable behaviors, such as cognitive flexibility, attention, and working memory. Deficits in these functions typify multiple neuropsychiatric disorders that are caused or exacerbated by exposure to psychological stress. Here we review recent evidence examining the effects of stress on executive and cognitive functions in rodents and discuss an emerging body of evidence that implicates the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) as a potentially critical molecular mechanism mediating these effects. Future work in this area could open up new avenues for developing pharmacotherapies for ameliorating cognitive dysfunction in neuropsychiatric disease.

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