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Stress – The Impacts of Stress

5. Stress and Cognition

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About this Lecture


In this lecture, we think about how stress can affect cognition, specifically its effects on memory, focusing in particular on: (i) the three main stages of memory processing: encoding, consolidation and retrieval; (ii) overcoming the challenge of studying the effects of stress on just one of these memory stages, including that participants/subjects can be exposed to stress during only one of them; (iii) a laboratory study example of this as the cold pressor test (submerging one’s hand in ice water, often for an unspecified length of time) which, if administered during the retrieval stage of memory processing, demonstrates the negative effects of stress on retrieval specifically; (iv) the Cahill et al. (2003) study as evidence of stress improving memory performance at the encoding and consolidation stages; (v) highlighting that, while stress can improve encoding and consolidation, it is limited to context related to the stressor, rather than reliably improving memory of all aspects of a time or event.


In this course, Dr Livia Tomova (University of Cambridge) explores the topic of stress. In the first lecture, we think about the physiological stress response, detailing the key hormones, organs and neurotransmitters involved in these complicated biological processes. In the second lecture, we look at sources of stress and the methods researchers have used to measure someone’s stress level or response. In the third lecture, we expand on this by outlining individual differences in people’s responses to stressful situations, focusing on the concepts of hardiness and personality types. Next, we describe four key methods for coping with stress: drug therapies, cognitive behavioural therapies, biofeedback, and social support. In the fifth and final lecture, we explore how stress can impact cognition, specifically memory processes.

Research project looking for 16-19-year-old males:


Dr Livia Tomova is a research associate in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, with an interest in how stress, loneliness and social isolation affect the brain and mind. Dr Tomova’s current research focuses on biological markers indicating vulnerability to the effects of isolation and loneliness in adolescents and young adults. Some of Dr Tomova’s recent publications include 'The effects of social deprivation on adolescent development and mental health' (2020) and 'Acute stress alters neural patterns of value representation for others' (2020).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Tomova, L. (2021, December 03). Stress – The Impacts of Stress - Stress and Cognition [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Tomova, L. "Stress – The Impacts of Stress – Stress and Cognition." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 03 Dec 2021,

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