How Does Stress Affect Memory

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INTRODUCTION How can stress affect memory? The study of the interaction between emotions and memory has been approached in many ways, from different psychological, physiological and pathological views and in different stages of life. Stressful emotions, such as fear, unhappiness and distress, generated by everyday life events can shape both our personalities and our memories. As Mason (1975) notes, “The single most remarkable historical fact concerning the term 'stress' is its persistent, widespread usage in biology and medicine in spite of almost chaotic disagreement over its definition". Despite the lack of universal definition, the topic of stress and memory has been of great interest for some time (Rahimi and Claiborne, 2007).…show more content…
Studies have shown that stress has differential effects on brain systems that are responsible for memory. For example, a study by Reisberg and Hertel (2004) reported that for a certain event, there are two aspects of memory: emotional and non-emotional. The amygdala is involved in the emotional aspect of memories, while the hippocampal formation is involved in the non-emotional aspects of memories for events. What they concluded from their study is that for a certain event, experiencing stress enhances memory for emotional aspects of the event. On the other hand, stress disturbs memory for the non-emotional aspects of the same event. That raised the idea that stress has a degree of differential effects on brain structures that are required to form memory. At the same time, Rahimi & Claiborne (2007) concluded that exposure to different intensities of stress has different effects on memory. They found that children exposed to higher level of stress recall incidences better than emotionally neutral ones (Rahimi and Claiborne,

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