Memory Performance

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Memory is defined as the process of receiving new information and storing it. As memory plays a critical role in human life, a large number of studies have been conducted to reveal further factors that impair memory performance. Previous physiological perspectives on memory have hypothesized that stress has an impact on memory as it activates the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) pathway, resulting in the secretion of corticotrophin-releasing hormone and altering the brain’s chemical composition. This in turn would make access to stored information during a stressful situation harder than in normal conditions. The objective of this paper is to study the psychological effects of stress on memory performance using a recall test. The research …show more content…
It was hypothesized that a stressor would cause abnormal activity in the brain and the secretion of hormones, resulting in fewer words recalled by condition B compared to condition A. The means and the standard deviations of the two conditions suggest that participants in condition A performed superior to those in condition B. This difference is reasonable, considering that participants in condition A were mentally preparing themselves to memorize the word list so as to be able to recall as many words as possible. Participants in condition B relied upon recognizing the words as opposed to recalling them, meaning that they did not give full attention to each word on the list. In other words, participants in condition B did not pay attention to how the words were spelled, but rather depended on their recognition skills to be able to recognize the correct words based on how they look. The surprise experienced by the participants in condition B, between the time the real task was announced to the beginning of the recall test, was also a factor in the decreased mean as compared to the other …show more content…
For instance, this study lacks ecological validity, in particular, the data was not collected based on a real-life experience. Moreover, about 71.1% of the sample size contained female participants and only 28.9% male participants, creating a gender bias in the results. According to the Wolf et al. (2001) study, the small correlation between the stressor and the memory performance was strongly observed in men, while there was almost no association observed in women. Another possible limitation is that the level of cortisol in all the participants was not measured prior to and after the recalled test for the purpose of determining whether the stressful-unexpected test induced an increase in cortisol levels in condition B participants. It is therefore hard to determine how much stress the participants actually experienced in condition B. As proposed by Wolkowitz et al. (1990), stress sensitivity might vary from person to person based on how the individual perceives the situation. Consequently, this limitation suggests that the stressful-unexpected recalled test might have not been stressful enough for the participants. Finally, the participants in this study did not go through both conditions, which decreases the validity of the conditions set, and as such, the

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