The Effect Stress has on Working Memory
What is the effect of stress on working memory? Stress has been shown to influence working memory (Schoofs, Pabst, Brand, & Wolf, 2013). The purpose of this experiment is to determine whether the stress has a positive or negative impact on working memory. Many people either handle stress well in their daily lives or they succumb to the pressure. While many studies have been done to examine the implications of stress on our physical well-being, there is limited research on specifically how stress affects working memory.
Stress has been said to impair response inhibition and working memory. Mika, Mazur, Hoffman, Talboom, Bimonet-Nelson, Sanabria and Conrad (2012) examined what effects chronic restraint stress had on response inhibition and working memory. The researchers hypothesized that stress reduces the response inhibition capacity and impairs working memory. They measured the response inhibition capacity with a response-withholding task known as the FMI, fixed-minimum interval schedule of reinforcement. The researchers measured working memory by using a radial arm water maze, RAWM. In this study, adults male Sprague-Dawley rats were trained on the RAWM and then on the FMI. In order to study the affects of stress, the rats were divided into a restraint stress condition or a control condition. The researchers manipulated the stress condition by either placing the control condition rats in their natural cages and the restraint stress condition rats in a wire mesh restrainer. After the chronic stress was administered, the rats were tested on FMI and on RAWM. The findings of the study supported the researchers hypothesis; chronic stress did impair both response inhibition and working memory.
Beilock and DeCaro (2007) studied how differences in working memory (WM) influence the strategies used to solve difficult math problems and how testing situations alter strategy use. Individuals’ working memory was categorized into two groups, higher WM and lower WM. This was determined by the participants average scores on the OSPAN and a modified version of the RSPAN. The OSPAN task involves computing a series of arithmetic equations while trying to remember a list of unrelated words. The RSPAN task is where the participants read a sentence aloud and then are asked whether or not the sentence makes sense. The different testing situations were categorized as either being high-pressure or low-pressure. In the low-pressure situations, participants were just told to work as swiftly and accurately as possible and to show their work on how they answered the...