Context-dependent enhancement of declarative memory performance following acute psychosocial stress

T. Smeets, T. Giesbrecht, M. Jelicic, H. Merckelbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Studies on how acute stress affects learning and memory have yielded inconsistent findings, with some studies reporting enhancing effects while others report impairing effects. Recently, Joëls et al. [Joëls, M., Pu, Z., Wiegert, O., Oitzl, M.S., Krugers, H.J., 2006. Learning under stress: how does it work? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10, 152-158] argued that stress will enhance memory only when the memory acquisition phase and stressor share the same spatiotemporal context (i.e., context-congruency). The current study tested this hypothesis by looking at whether context-congruent stress enhances declarative memory performance. Undergraduates were assigned to a personality stress group (n=16), a memory stress group (n=18), or a no-stress control group (n=18). While being exposed to the acute stressor or a control task, participants encoded personality- and memory-related words and were tested for free recall 24h later. Relative to controls, stress significantly enhanced recall of context-congruent words, but only for personality words. This suggests that acute stress may strengthen the consolidation of memory material when the stressor matches the to-be-remembered information in place and time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-123
JournalBiological Psychology
Volume76
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

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Smeets, T. ; Giesbrecht, T. ; Jelicic, M. ; Merckelbach, H. / Context-dependent enhancement of declarative memory performance following acute psychosocial stress. In: Biological Psychology. 2007 ; Vol. 76, No. 1-2. pp. 116-123.
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abstract = "Studies on how acute stress affects learning and memory have yielded inconsistent findings, with some studies reporting enhancing effects while others report impairing effects. Recently, Jo{\"e}ls et al. [Jo{\"e}ls, M., Pu, Z., Wiegert, O., Oitzl, M.S., Krugers, H.J., 2006. Learning under stress: how does it work? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10, 152-158] argued that stress will enhance memory only when the memory acquisition phase and stressor share the same spatiotemporal context (i.e., context-congruency). The current study tested this hypothesis by looking at whether context-congruent stress enhances declarative memory performance. Undergraduates were assigned to a personality stress group (n=16), a memory stress group (n=18), or a no-stress control group (n=18). While being exposed to the acute stressor or a control task, participants encoded personality- and memory-related words and were tested for free recall 24h later. Relative to controls, stress significantly enhanced recall of context-congruent words, but only for personality words. This suggests that acute stress may strengthen the consolidation of memory material when the stressor matches the to-be-remembered information in place and time.",
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Context-dependent enhancement of declarative memory performance following acute psychosocial stress. / Smeets, T.; Giesbrecht, T.; Jelicic, M.; Merckelbach, H.

In: Biological Psychology, Vol. 76, No. 1-2, 2007, p. 116-123.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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