Researchers studied the brains of male and female rats, focusing on two regions known to play a role in learning and stress: the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. The amygdala, a small almond-shaped structure located deep within the brain, senses stressful situations. The prefrontal cortex, in the front of the brain, is necessary for higher cognitive functions.
“These two structures are intimately connected to one another,” says Tracey Shors, a professor of psychology at Rutgers, who is lead author of the study reported in the Journal of Neuroscience. “Therefore, we examined whether they communicate with one another to influence learning after stress.”