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How Disaster Changes the Brain

Self-esteem may play a role in how the brain reacts to disaster, LiveScience reports. Prior to the devastating magnitude-9 earthquake that struck Japan in 2011, researchers conducted brain scans of more than 35 people. They repeated the scans immediately after the quake to analyze how stress alters the brain and found that two regions, the hippocampus and orbitofrontal cortex, had shrunk. However, a year later, the volume of the orbitofrontal cortex increased in survivors with higher self-esteem scores. The findings, published online today in Molecular Psychiatry, suggest that self-esteem can boost resilience to distress.

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