Anticipating stress has a negative impact on working memory.
In order to assess the effect of stress on cognitive abilities, a team of researchers studied 240 adults...
(⅔ women, age 22-65) and asked them to rate from 0 to 100 their anticipation of stress in the morning, as well as their actual experience of stress during the day. As for working memory, it was assessed with a simple task requiring participants to recall the localization of three red dots on a grid after a short distraction. After 14 days, the team found a clear and negative correlation between anticipation of stress in the morning and performance on the task
Interestingly, actual stress during the day did not have such a negative impact.
These findings have obvious applications, notably in education where students often struggle with different degrees of test anxiety.