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Is Stress Ruining Your Memory?

Tuesday, 21 Apr 2015 11:15 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Major Harris, a quarterback at West Virginia in the late 1980s, is in the college football Hall of Fame. But in a pivotal game against Penn State, as the clock was running out, Harris blanked on what play he'd called. As his entire team went left - where he'd called it - he ran right.

Was it a disaster? Not at all.

In fact, he faked out the entire Penn State defense, broke five tackles and made a 30-yard touchdown run.

A stress response (to anything from pressure to win to relationship woes) can knock out short- and long-term memories. But rarely is the outcome as positive as it was for Harris.

For youngsters and old-timers alike, such negative responses to a stressful event can alter how the brain receives, stores, or ignores incoming information.

This might be caused by chemicals secreted by the neuroendocrine system in response to perceived stress, which alter how your brain synapses can encode information and store it for retrieval.

Oversecretion of cortisol and adrenaline (they surge from acute and chronic stress) prunes synapses in your hippocampus (your memory area) and increases your risk for cognitive decline.

So, the next time you forget where you parked your car or what your boss told you to do, ask yourself: "Am I responding to events with more stress than I realize?"

If the answer is yes, try these steps: meditate; give up stress-response habits like eating added sugars, sleeping less, and sitting around too much; spend time with friends and your honey; do something generous for someone in need.

You'll remember those good times vividly!

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A stress response (to anything from pressure to win to relationship woes) can knock out short- and long-term memories.
stress, memory, hippocampus, Dr. Oz
Tuesday, 21 Apr 2015 11:15 AM
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