Under the influence of stress hormones, apparently, we use other brain regions and other learning strategies, as if we are not stressed. This is the conclusion of a recent study.
Under stress, we rely in learning apparently mainly due to our gut feeling, while we apply conscious learning strategies in peace. The report cognitive psychologists. To investigate the influence of stress on learning, 59 people have been subjected to a test.
Half the volunteers had three minutes a hand in ice-cold water diving, releasing proven stress hormones. The other half held her hand in pleasantly warm water. After that, all participants must complete a so-called weather forecast test. But they see playing cards with different symbols and must to learn to predict which combinations of cards which announce rain and sunshine. Each card combination is associated with a different probability for good or bad weather.
Under stress, the brain uses other resources.
All trial participants learned to predict the weather. But they turned for different strategies of how a brain scan with an MRI showed. While stressed people consciously applying choose a simple strategy by relying on individual-oriented symbols, stressed participants made the matter more difficult. They decided on the basis of combinations of symbols, which is much more complicated. Bud they did it, however, unconsciously, that is, they could not explain its strategy.
The fundamentally different approach to the non-stressed and stressed subjects was reflected in their brain activity again. In the rest preferably region of the brain worked in the medial temporal lobe – the hippocampus, which is important for long-term memory was found. Under stress, the so-called, striatum was activated in the midbrain – a brain region that is responsible for more unconscious learning. „Stress interferes in conscious, purposeful learning, which depends on the hippocampus”, explains one of the study authors. “So the brain forced to uses other resources. Stress controls the behavior – that saves the learning performance.“