Neuroendocrine cascade. Representation of the neuroendocrine cascade including factors proposed to influence a stress response derived from the current findings. The two social paradigms, peer interaction and social evaluation, are the potential stressors. The amygdala, an early threat detector, is highly responsive to novel stimuli, which is engaged in social and affective appraisal. If the individual perceives the event to be stressful, the amygdala may become engaged, initiating a physiological response. However, the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which plays a pivotal role in cognitive appraisal, can influence reactivity by information gleaned from the context in which the stressor occurs. The individual may perceive the event as nonthreatening or choose to avoid it, thereby aborting a heightened response to the stressor. Based on developmental factors including personal experiences, the hippocampus may also become engaged. Limbic structures are thus influential in triggering the activation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis for the cascade of neuropeptides and eventual release of cortisol from the adrenal cortex.