Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers Stanford Executive Brief with Robert Sapolsky

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Tackling the serious topic of stress in his famously entertaining manner, Professor Sapolsky sets the stage on a Kenyan savannah, with a hungry lion in hot pursuit of a terrified zebra. As he explains, the zebra's fight-or-flight response channels essential energy to its survival effort by shutting down and even damaging nonessential biological functions—in a temporary, short-term response. Unfortunately, humans can generate the same response simply by anticipating stress—whether or not it occurs, and whether or not it's merited. And when we subject ourselves to prolonged psychological stress (as Type A personalities in particular do) we contract ulcers, diabetes, heart disease, brain damage, and other dysfunctions. So why do some people cope with stress better than others? Drawing on Hans Selye's research with rats in a stress-induced environment, Robert Sapolsky gives us hope. We can reduce the risk of stress-related disease when we have an outlet for stress and frustration, some control over what's causing us stress, the ability to predict stressors, and, perhaps most importantly, social connectedness for emotional support. Robert Sapolsky is one of the world's leading neuroscientists, a research associate with the Institute of Primate Research Museums of Kenya, and a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. He is the author of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: An Updated Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases and Coping and A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons.

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