6238 Discussion 1: Stress And Cognitive Functions

Consider the work of an air traffic controller or an emergency room physician. Both jobs require alertness, quick thinking, and sound judgment in the making of a constant stream of life-or-death decisions. This process occurs with every worker’s shift, day after day. Imagine the impact of such an ongoing responsibility on cognitive functioning.

Stress has profound effects on cognitive functions, such as decision making, occasionally altering the brain in surprising ways. Stress symptoms may lead to prominent clinical characteristics, which often go beyond anxiety and fear. Stress hormones can affect neurotransmitter systems in the brain, causing physical changes in some cases. The hippocampus, for example, can atrophy as a result of chronic stress.

For this Discussion, consider effects of stress on cognitive functions. Then think about a time when stress affected your cognitive functions.

Post a brief explanation of how stress affects cognitive functions, including the roles of the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. Then provide examples of situations when stress affected your attention, memory, problem solving, or decision making. Finally, explain how you might mitigate the effects of stress on cognitive functions.

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