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Effects of Stress on Memory

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Effects of Stress on Memory

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The effects of Stress on Short Term Memory
When someone says the word stress the mind immediately shifts to a negative thought with painful consequences, although stress can be either positive or negative. Negative stress has been blamed for a variety of health issues as well as psychological and physiological symptoms and problems. It is estimated that millions of pounds are lost in work related, educational and health care costs every year due to stress. While stress is a naturally occurring reaction to the environment around the individual it can be harmful if prolonged or in increased amounts. For the purpose of this paper, we will examine the realms of stress and the impact of stress on memory. What is Stress?

In a dangerous or unpleasant experience the body reacts automatically to the threat by the brain triggering a number of activities. Stress is defined as a reaction by the body to an internal or external perceived harmful threat, that causes the body to come under pressure or strain (Panzarino, 2006). During an event that an individual feels threatened, physiological triggers in the brain create a state in which many things take place. Chemicals such as adrenaline and Cortisol are released into the blood stream causing defensive actions to take place in the muscles. These chemicals cause heart rate increases which in turn increase blood pressure and blood sugar. The increase in blood flow allows additional oxygen to be distributed throughout the body that is needed for this increased state of alertness and energy. The body basically prepares itself for defensive actions by protecting itself or preparing to run, which ever is most feasible at the time. Most have heard of the term "fight or flight"; this is what is referred to as the stress induced state. If the individual is to flee they will need more energy and the ability to run from the threat. On the other hand if a fight is in order the body must be prepared for extended bursts of...