Examining Factors Involved in Stress Related Working Memory Impairments: Independent or Conditional Effects?
A large and growing body of research demonstrates the impact of psychological stress on working memory. However, the typical study approach tests the effects of a single biological or psychological factor on changes in working memory. The current study attempted to move beyond the standard single-factor assessment by examining the impact of 2 possible factors in stress-related working memory impairments. To this end, 60 participants completed a working memory task before and after either a psychological stressor writing task or a control writing task and completed measures of both cortisol and mind wandering. We also included a measure of state anxiety to examine the direct and indirect effect on working memory. We found that mind wandering mediated the relationship between state anxiety and working memory at the baseline measurement. This indirect relationship was moderated by cortisol, such that the impact of mind wandering on working memory increased as cortisol levels increased. No overall working memory impairment was observed following the stress manipulation, but increases in state anxiety and mind wandering were observed. State anxiety and mind wandering independently mediated the relationship between change in working memory and threat perception. The indirect paths resulted in opposing effects on working memory. Combined, the findings from this study suggest that cortisol enhances the impact of mind wandering on working memory, that state anxiety may not always result in stress-related working memory impairments, and that high working memory performance can protect against mind wandering. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved)
Tartar, J. L.,
Tamayo, B. A.,
Banks, J. B.
(2015). Examining Factors Involved in Stress Related Working Memory Impairments: Independent or Conditional Effects?. Emotion, 15(6), 827-836.
Available at: https://nsuworks.nova.edu/cps_facarticles/957