Sunday, October 31, 2004

Stress can cause forgetfulness

By way of Susan at Suburban Guerilla, a new research finding I'm excited about that has nothing to do with politics or the election:
Stressful situations in which the individual has no control were found to activate an enzyme in the brain called protein kinase C, which impairs the short-term memory and other functions in the prefrontal cortex, the executive-decision part of the brain, says Dr. Amy F. T. Arnsten of Yale Medical School.


PKC affects a part of the brain that allows abstract reasoning, using working memory that is constantly updated.

"This kind of memory, the ability to concentrate, seems to be impaired when exposed to mild stresses," she said.

Scientists think the effect evolved as a protective mechanism in the event of danger, she said.

"If you're in dangerous conditions it helps to be distractible, to hear every little sound in the woods and react rapidly, instinctually," she said. "It's like getting cut off on the highway. You don't want to be a slow, thoughtful creature.... You want to react and hit brakes."
I'm going to have to look this piece of research up.

Implications of this are great but I'd rather get a hold of the source document first.