Abstract and Keywords
Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is the study of how psychological, neural, and immunologic processes interact and affect human health and behavior. Although once a relatively small field, some of the most exciting discoveries in psychopathology and mental health research have recently involved ideas and methods from PNI. In reviewing this work, I first summarize the structure and function of the human immune system, focusing primarily on inflammation. Second, I describe neural and physiologic pathways that link the brain and immune system, which give neurocognitive processes the ability to regulate the immune system and immunologic processes the ability to affect neural, cognitive-emotional, and behavioral outcomes. Third, I review studies examining associations between life stress and inflammation, and inflammation and mental health. Finally, I highlight several promising avenues for future research. Overall, despite the notable impact that PNI has already had on our understanding of mental and physical health, many important questions remain unanswered.
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