PSU McNair Scholars Online Journal


Recollection (Psychology), Memory -- Testing, Memory -- Effect of stress on


Numerous studies have established the relationship between stress and memory, particularly stress and its effect on memory retrieval. When we experience stress, there is a cascade of hormonal responses which are critical to helping the body cope with the stressful event. When the stressful event persists, levels of the hormone cortisol--a type of glucocorticoid increases in response to the stress and have wide-ranging effects on the body. In particular, cortisol can have an effect on brain cells, particularly the hippocampus which is responsible for cognitive activities such as learning and memory. In this study, we utilized a public speaking task as a stress-inducing technique. We predicted that stress would negatively impact the ability of college students to retrieve a list of words. Preliminary analyses indicate no significant difference for word-recall as a function of condition, M=12.55, SD=3.57 and M=12.45, SD=3.80. Future studies should refine the methodology and take into consideration the time-dependence of this phenomenon.

Faculty Mentor: Gabriela A. Martorell



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