“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye
Perception drives the way humans interact with their world. This perception is the product of interactions among multiple complex systems, StressWAVES’ underlying philosophy. Overall, we view human behavior as the key to understanding adaptation to one’s environment which can drive every aspect of life, including health (i.e., physical + emotional). Thus, we examine questions using the biopsychosocial lens with a focus on the biological underpinnings.
Our methodologies examine the activity of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, immune system, and metabolism. Therefore, we investigate communication among these systems and how their function can be influenced by psychological (e.g., appraisal, depression), biological (e.g., sex, drug use, age), and psychosocial (e.g., socioeconomic status, social support, culture) factors.
We approach research with a dual lens. Using a reductionist view point, we examine how behaviors may influence the function of multiple physiological systems including neuroendocrine-immune communication. Yet, investigate how behavior change through prevention or intervention can have holistic improvements on an individual.
Currently, our society has made major technological advancements that affect our daily living and modify how we interact with the world. However, society (especially in the US) hasn’t provided or doesn’t support the best skill set development to handle or adapt well to today’s stress. As with many societal issues, those with less often disproportionately suffer and this is true in regards to the acute and chronic stress burden.
Unraveling the complexity of perception, stress, and the behaviors associated with them in a societal context requires an interdisciplinary team of research scientists. See the projects page to read how we are working to understand these complex relationships.