- 07/14/2019 at 9:58 pm #1460365EduGorillaKeymasterSelect Question Language :
Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions that follow.
Anyone who has struggled with anxiety and depression, or knows someone who has, will understand how the body’s energy is out of balance. We see this over short-time frames, hour-to-hour, day-to-day – with abrupt changes in mood, sudden anxiety, crashes in willpower and motivation, bursts of activity, and other difficulty reacting constructively to stresses – and over longer spans of time, with chronic fatigue, burn-out, persistent difficulty resting and recharging, disrupted sleep, and trouble pursuing long-term plans. Rather than responding to challenges with a proportional response, maintaining regular activities, and being able to return to a pre-activation state, people with anxiety, depression, and related conditions such as post-traumatic stress, get stuck in states of both under- and over-activation, with difficulty smoothly transitioning back and forth as required by circumstances.
The body manages this balance via the autonomic nervous system, via various bundles of nerves projecting from key areas of the brain throughout all areas of the body. The autonomic nervous system operates largely on autopilot, and unlike the nerves which signal our muscles to move on command, we cannot easily exercise conscious control over reactions like heart rate, how fast we breathe, how much blood flows to our legs and away from non-essential systems when we need to hustle, and generally the driving and damping forces which, in health, serve to keep us functioning within sustainable operating parameters. It is the sympathetic nervous system, associated with adrenaline and fear responses, which makes us leap into action or freeze in ready-to-bolt fear, and the parasympathetic nervous system, which comes on line when stress has abated, returning the body to baseline, and restoration.
The parasympathetic nervous systems include the Vagus Nerves (aka Cranial Nerve X ), which emerge from the base of the brain as a pair, one for each side of the body, sending fibres to the heart, lungs, adrenal glands, and other vital organ systems. Stimulation of the Vagus Nerve with a surgically-implanted device similar to a cardiac pacemaker, for example, can effectively alleviate depression symptoms. The parasympathetic nervous system quells activation via a brain-wide inhibitory neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), lowering the volume on overall neuron activity, as contrasted with glutamate, and excitatory neurotransmitter which amps up neural activity. Researchers study the effects of various interventions for anxiety, depression and other conditions using the Vagal-GABA Theory. In the case of yoga and breathing exercises, the hypothesis is that these practices enable us to directly impact how our brains work by stimulating the vagus nerve and thereby increasing GABA levels in key area which raise parasympathetic nervous system “tone”, balancing-out relatively excessive sympathetic nervous system activity.
As per the passage, what is gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)?
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