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A winter term course called "the Science of Stress" is rooted in neuroscience, yet spans the fields of psychology, behavioral economics, and biology.

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J-term Scenes: The Science of Stress

January 17, 2017

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Stress is a feeling that most people experience in one form or another on a daily basis and is increasingly understood to be a determinant of well-being. This winter term, students are studying the science behind stress in an interdisciplinary course taught by visiting instructor Adrienne Taren, who graduated from Middlebury in 2009.

The course is rooted in neuroscience, says Taren, but touches on the areas of psychology, behavioral economics, and biology. Taren, who recently completed an MD and PhD at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, researches the neuroscience of stress and mindfulness-based stress reduction, and links to behavior and biomarkers of health.

"I think one of the most exciting things is to get students to take this information and actually be able to apply the science in their own lives," says Taren. Hopefully when they think about when they're stressed, she says, they'll better understand what is actually happening at a physiologic level and "how we can modulate our own stress response to benefit us."

Look for more J-term Scenes throughout the month of January.  

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2 Comments

Fascinating. Would love to share your video with my daughter who studied neuropsychic in college! Great work.

by Sara McPherson Myles (not verified)

How far we have come - back in the 70's during college years my only recollection of stress management was based on causes of stress being entirely external in nature: exams, papers, personal relationships, athletic challenges, social standing, etc., and for the most part it was simply accepted without suggestions for practical remediation. A course that offers understanding of "...what is actually happening at a physiologic level and "how we can modulate our own stress response to benefit us" strikes me as being of interest and usefulness of the highest order. The course description reminds me of Stephen (later Steven) Hauschka's ('07) utilization of neuroscience in support of his now NFL place kicking career. It is hard to imagine anything more stressful than being the field goal kicker with a professional football game on the line, let alone becoming a place kicker only in the later stages of his college athletic career. As many readers associated with Middlebury College well know, Stephen graduated from Middlebury with a B.A. in neuroscience, and he credits the discipline as contributory to his ability to manage this level of stress. What an intriguing intersection of neuroscience and individual students' lives - hopefully Middlebury can find a way to offer this education/information to others outside of a neuroscience major beyond a clearly excellent, but single, J-term course.

by David Minot '74 (not verified)

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