Good How Stress Affect Episodic Memory Research Paper Example

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Stress, Psychology, Brain, Age, Information, Life, Emotions, Time

Pages: 7

Words: 1925

Published: 2021/03/23


The research explores the relationship between episodic memory and stress on the young, middle age and adults. There are two vital methods explored in this case in memory updating that include reactivation trailed by reconsolidation. The effects of psychosocial stress on episodic memory updating are explored. According to research done in this sector, the hypothesis was that stress before reactivation or before reconsolidation would impair updating of memory. When a short-lived task on episodic memory was performed which comprises the tests of Logical Memory, Digit Symbol Substitution, Verbal Paired Associates, and Digit Symbol Incidental Learning. From the results found, it is clearly evident that hassles and irritations of the daily basis as well as the buildup of life events which are more challenging, it is evident that reduced exacerbate age-related on episodic memory tests needs many executive resources and more integrated and elaborative processing. According to the findings, stress at the onset of reconciliation can impair memory updating but not the stress before reactivation. At the same time, timing has some effects on the processing of memory. Also discussed in this research is the relationship between risk for dementia and effective status and the differences between different people on the effect of stress. It has been employed to give a more sensitive interpretation of episodic memory tests commonly used to discern mild cognitive impairment (McEwen 89).
Keywords. Stress. Episodic. Memory is updating. Reactivation. Reconsolidation. Timing of stress.


According to Loftus and Pickrell (1995), after the acquisition of memory, memory can easily be altered after a long period. In this case, there will be room for new information as there is updating of information where in most cases the old information is lost and replaced by new information. The processes involved in underlying these memory modifications after primary learning in most of the cases are unknown and it becomes so much challenging in understanding the dynamics of memory updating for the current research on memory. The most fundamental way in mediating the modification of apparently stable memories is the reconciliation of memory. At the similar time, after an extensive time of memory acquisition, the memory can easily be altered, as it will allow for the updating of the old memories with the new ones. Stress has depicted a very negative effect on the neurological structures that is involved in learning and memory as part of life experience and in response to disease. In addition, stress has been found to have a lot of implication in hastening the age-related cognitive decline (McEwen 67).
According to McDonald (2002), during the early stages of development, stress is stress is found to have a significant inspiration on the growth of the hypothalamic-Adreno-pituitary axis that is the part of the brain responsible for the regulation of metabolic processes. Moreover, it leads to the development of the hypothalamic-Adreno-pituitary axis that has an abnormal response to everyday events encounters in life. It will, therefore, cause overproduction of glucocorticoids that affects the neurogenesis in the hippocampus negatively and in the end causing learning and memory impairment in adulthood. The focus of the research, in this case, is, therefore, to investigate the effects caused every day by stress on the episodic memory test performance of the young, middle age and older adult people.

Effects of stress on memory

According to McEwen 2010, traumatic stress that has direct impact on memory is brought about by several factors within the brain system including atrophy of the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and amygdala and elevated glucocorticoids. However, since memory entails the interaction between the internal mental processes and the external information, changes in the allostatic within the neurological system are reflected in and analogous to alterations of processing efficiencies found in cognitive systems.
In a cognitive perspective, the allocation and processing of resources in the working memory are found to be facilitated by worry and other cognitive activities that are related to stress. Working memory is said to be a system that involves a central executive with the function of directing attentional processes along with subsystems that organize and modify visual information. Therefore, deficits in explicit memory performance will only occur when stress places added demands on the limited processing resources of working memory. McEwen (2010), remarks that it is because of the role of the working memory that is to temporarily hold information and process this information so the introduction of any anxiety to it will reduce its capability making it have a wide range repercussion on the performance of a great variety of the cognitive tasks. In addition the basic unconscious mechanisms process, emotional information will selectively affect the storage, encoding and retrieval of information. Therefore, even in a situation where one is not aware of their emotional concerns, there is always a reprocessing within the working memory of the traces of our experiences. The reprocessing within the working memory allows new information about oneself and the life of experience to be included in the existing beliefs and concepts. McEwen (2010), remarks that the end cost in this case is utilizing available resources within the working memory and loss of inhibitory control during memory construction brought about by early termination of retrieval processes, and fragmentary access to information that are related to the broader associative network
Impairment of the brain memory is brought about by induced stress in glucocorticoid and catecholamine levels which are responsible for the suppressing the function of memory-related brain regions. Modification of memory after reactivation provides a god Avenue in altering unwanted memories in psychiatric disorders, for the example, posttraumatic stress disorder. The potential therapeutic relevance of the reconsolidation phenomenon is whether all the memories are susceptible to reconsolidation manipulation. According to Lehmann & McEwen (2010), In the research, many boundaries constraining memory reconsolidation are already identified which include the time interval between the original learning and reactivation, the duration of the remainder, the number of reactivations, and the context of occurrence of reactivation. The impact of pharmacological post reactivation manipulations of Rodent data dependent on the dosage. In this case, overdose of proteins synthesis inhibitor injected done after reactivation leads to a reduction of subsequent memory.
McEwen (2010), remarks that the initial exposure to emotional and high stress is responsible for the recall of subsequent neutral stimuli. At the same time, it will lead to failure to lower thoughts that are considered stressful. Research surrounding individuals enduring severe stress have proposed negative relationships between stress and memory processing, for example, the stress that is ongoing in assisting a spouse with Alzheimer’s disease.
According to Steil and Ehlers (2000), the current experiments on stress indicates that exposure to a major psychological stressor enhances and preserves memory for emotional aspect of event and at the same time alters memory for a non-emotional aspect of a similar event. In the experiment, exposure to stress also interfered with the memory for the information considered mathematically and visually central to the event shown within the displayed slides. On the other hand, memory for peripheral information is affected by stress. The results found in the experiment are very consistent with theories causing varied impacts on the system of the brain systems that is responsible for encoding and retrieving emotional memories. Also, non-emotional memories, and inconsistent with the interpretation that the formed memories under high points of anxiety are qualitatively the similar as those designed under normal emotional conditions.
According to McDonald (2002), in the understanding the impact of stress on memory, there is need for furthering our knowledge on the effect of advancing age, and in finding preventative methods to moderating the declines related to age. Within the study, the everyday stress that is measured by the evaluation irritations and hassles of everyday and the collection of life events considered challenging were found to be much connected with episodic memory performances. Everyday stress may worsen normal age-related decline on the test of memory requires greater executive resources and more elaborative and integrated.
According to Backman, Small and Wahlin (2000), simple episodic memory work uses the immediate stories of working memory while the more complex tasks of the episodic memory mostly uses the executive functions that are responsible for the integration of information and direct memory processes, research therefore shows that stress has got negative effects on the difficult tasks. Even though the criteria used in the operationalization of the mild cognitive impairment is always considered contentious, there is the use of memory test battery containing both the simple and complex tasks at the same time they contains a complex episodic memory task, and a Logical Memory Scale considered the best in predicting the mild cognitive impairments.
Steil and Ehlers (2010), remarks that up to date there are three studies that have been reported the impairing impact of stress on reconsolidation. They found that consolidation is facilitated by stress and at the same time, it impairs reconsolidation of recognition memory of the object. Equally, the place preference conditioned for morphine was interfered with the reactivation of the memory by exposing the animal to two different conditions with one with cold water to generate the stress. In this case, stress alters the reconsolidation of morphine place preference. Steil and Ehlers (2010), also demonstrated the impact of administering glucocorticoids immediately after reactivation of a contextual fear memory leading to reduced expression of fear in mice. The same effects on the memory of the mice extend to the human memory reconsolidation. In this case, it is evident that stress has a direct impact on the episodic memory of human beings. The experiment and research clearly demonstrate the relationship and the effect of the change of environment from a normal environment to a stressful one.
According to McEwen (2010), everyday stress is never associated with age but with the advancing age, stress may change from episodic to chronic. Therefore, the only way to reduce the chances of the disease is to control stress, since a stressful life can lead to eating disorders which in turn can results into obesity. Thus, keeping healthy will depends on a stress free life as a factor, the effective methods of dealing with this, therefore, include psychosocial therapies and cognitive-behavioral that enables for the re-appraisal of life stressors and concomitant modification of neurological and behavioral response. In addition, neurological health and memory function can be enhanced by employing effective coping techniques and learning how to control stress. It will help in lowering the risks for the decline of age-related memory. McDonald (2002), explains that age, gender and education are also related to the episodic memory measures. Nevertheless, very little is known about these other factors considering that stress is the most fundamental factor that is much related to episodic memory, or how they predispose one to adopt an optimistic psychological orientation and to cope successfully with life stresses (McEwen 45).


It can be seen and identified clearly that stress, age and gender are related to episodic memory. Some other factors are kept constant since there are no clear researches to prove or give clear explanations of their relations to episodic memory. Thus as seen earlier there is a clear relationship between sexes, age and stress, that is, everyday stress is never associated with age but with the advancing age, stress may change from episodic to chronic. It calls for the importance of reducing the stress level to facilitate a longer healthy life.

Work Cited

Hardt, O., Einarsson, E. Ö., & Nader, K.. A bridge over troubled water: Reconsolidation as a link between cognitive and neuroscientific memory research traditions. Annual Review of Psychology, 61, 141–167, 2010. Print.
Loftus, E. F., & Pickrell, J. E.. The formation of false memories. Psychiatric Annals, 25, 720–725, 1995.Print.
Steil, R., & Ehlers, A. Dysfunctional meaning of posttraumatic intrusions in chronic PTSD. Behavior Research and Therapy, 38, 537–538, 2010. Print
McDonald, R. J. Multiple combinations of co-factors produce variants of age- related cognitive decline: A theory. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 56, 221–339, 2002. Print.
McEwen, B. S. The neurobiology of stress: From serendipity to clinical relevance. Brain Research, 886, 172–189, 2000. Print.
Backman, L., Small, B. J., and Wahlin, A. Cognitive functioning in very old age. In, F. I. M. Craik & T. A. Salthouse (Eds.), The handbook of aging and cognition (Second Edition) (pp. 499–558). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2000. Print.

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