Poster E47, Monday, March 27, 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Pacific Concourse
Delayed enhancement in rule-based category learning following acute psychosocial stress
David B. Smith1, Steve Hutchinson1, Shannon K. McCoy1, Shawn W. Ell1,2; 1University of Maine, 2Maine Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences & Engineering
Stressful situations result in the activation of multiple physiological responses. Recent research suggests that the time varying nature of these physiological responses has important implications for cognitive function, particularly processes dependent upon prefrontal cortical function. Presently we consider the temporal impact of this response in relation to rule-based categorization – a task thought to depend on working memory and cognitive control processes. Rule-based category learning performance was tested after completion of a social-evaluative stressor (modified version of the Trier Social Stress Test) at varying time delays relative to cessation of the stressor (no delay, short delay, and long delay conditions) or after a no stress, comparison condition. As expected, participants in the three stress conditions, but not the no stress condition, were physiologically and psychologically stressed. Participants in the long delay condition performed better on the rule-based category learning task than participants in the no delay, short delay, and no stress conditions. These data are consistent with a literature suggesting that cognitive processes dependent upon prefrontal cortex may be enhanced after physiological recovery from acute stress.
Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Working memory