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Episode 70: Your brain on drugs: The impact of acute stress on decision making


  BrainOnDrugs1This episode discusses some of the ill effects that can impact situational awareness and decision making as a result of stress.

Length: 30 minutes


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The tones go off for a reported residential dwelling fire with entrapment. Your heart begins to pound, your respirations increase and you get a burst of energy. You may even perspire as you don your gear in preparation for the response. You can thank your hypothalamus for that. This small organ in your brain chatters off messages when it senses stress and other organs respond by releasing drugs… hormone… peptides… neurotransmitters… drugs. One of those drugs is Epinephrine, released by the Adrenal glands which are located on the tops of your kidneys.

You are experiencing a stress reaction that is chemically induced and designed with a singular, Darwinian purpose – Survival.

  • Your brain is on drugs.
  • Hereditary instincts kick in.
  • Rational judgment impaired.
  • Intuitive judgment dominates (primal).
  • Attention narrows.
  • Hyper-vigilant.
  • Struggle to understand and process complex information and details.
  • You will revert back to behaviors that are comfortable, routine, or reflect your habits.

Suffice it say… stress changes brain function and the more you know about how… and why… the better prepared you will be to take advantage of your brain’s focus on survival… including the good and bad effects of stress.


Intro music

Safety Dance (1982)
Men Without Hats
GMC – Virgin Records

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