The Effect of Inducing Stress on Physiological Response and Cognitive Performance
Journal of Advanced Student Sciences (JASS)
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Students experience many different types of stressors throughout their education. College students often have multiple exams in a short period of time, inducing higher levels of stress that may negatively impact cognitive performance. Stress also causes an increase in physiological responses, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and electrodermal activity. This study investigates the effects of stressful testing environments on physiological responses and cognitive performance. To induce different testing environments, sixteen students were given a difficult word search to complete, while another group of sixteen students was given an easy word search. Physiological measurements were taken following completion of the puzzle. The thirty-two students were then given a second word search to assess cognitive function after stress was induced by the first puzzle. It was hypothesized that the students who received the difficult word search first would have increased average physiological stress responses and decreased average performance on the second word search, when compared to the group of students who received the easy word search. A T-test with a 95% confidence interval was performed to compare the deviation from baseline and the percent change between groups for each physiological variable and the percent change between groups for cognitive performance, with a p<0.05 indicating significance. The blood pressure and EDA data did not show a significant difference from baseline or between the two groups. The heart rate data showed a significant difference between the two groups, but the deviation from baseline was not significant. Cognitive performance data showed a significant difference between the two groups, with participants performing worse if they received a difficult word search first. These results indicate that stressful testing environments may affect subsequent cognitive performance. Future studies are needed to further demonstrate the relationship between stress, physiological responses, and cognitive performance.
ElectroDermal Activity (EDA)
Sympathetic Nervous System
An article that appeared in JASS, issue 2018