What happens to the brain during hardship?
There is no doubt that perceived hardship impacts our biological mechanisms. But it is a complex topic to tackle because adversity is subjective, and research is hampered by conceptualizations that depend on classifications of hardship with ambiguous and inconsistent biological data. Moreover, what constitutes as violence or hardship is culturally constructed and has evolved through time, reflecting not just altering power relations but also how societies and social scientists have conceptualized and interpreted these notions. Likewise, economists and politicians created notions such as poverty. Measures of poverty are defined and applied inconsistently across time and space and were created to target and evaluate government aid and services. In regards to neuroscience, the very general theme is that the region of the brain responsible for learning, memory, and logic, such as the prefrontal cortex, fires less when a person faces a perceived hardship. Instead, the area linked with fear and anxiety, such as the amygdala, fires more frequently. This constant firing rewires the brain's wiring. In severe cases, adversity can cause the size of the brain to shrink and decrease the myelin sheaths which are responsible for conducting the electrical signals in a timely fashion. But the truth is, biology is enormously complex and the last paragraph should not be generalized (as with many other things in life).